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India town sinks more than 20 feet

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
  • Heavy rain has apparently weakened porous rock underground
  • About 250 residents have been displaced
  • Forty-three houses have been dismantled as a precaution
  • A nonprofit plans to build new homes for them

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- A remote Indian town has sunk at least 20 feet, displacing about 250 residents, officials said Tuesday.

A small crack first appeared on the surface of the town of Mamit in the mountainous northeastern state of Mizoram in 1994, officials said.

The expanding cavity reached a critical stage this year, forcing authorities to evacuate at least 61 families, said Zothankhuma, the town's deputy commissioner.

The ground caved in more than 20 feet, he said. Heavy rain in June apparently weakened porous rock underground.

Forty-three houses have been dismantled as a precaution, according to officials.

Displaced residents are temporarily living in schools, community centers and village-council offices, said Zothankhuma, who goes by one name.

A nonprofit organization plans to start building new homes for them in about two weeks, he added.

Geologists do not expect the earth to sink further, but many residents have been granted land in another neighborhood to build anew, Zothankhuma said.

Mizoram is India's Christian-majority state, jutting between Bangladesh and Myanmar.