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IHOP parking lot cave-in swallows 12 cars

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) - A weekend cave-in of a restaurant parking lot in Mississippi swallowed 12 cars and now experts are to begin work Monday seeking to determine the cause of the collapse, authorities said.

Meridian Public Safety Director Buck Roberts told The Meridian Star that the collapse Saturday night was not the result of a sinkhole, which is generally caused when an underground water aquifer dries and leaves a void in the ground.

"You can call it what you want, a cave-in or whatever, but it is not a sinkhole," Roberts said.

Roberts said engineers and contractors would be on the scene Monday studying the site.

Emergency crews were called to the IHOP restaurant in Meridian on Saturday evening and found a section of parking lot about 35 feet wide and 400 feet long had collapsed. Cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles had dropped into the gash in the earth, which appeared to be about 15 feet deep.

No injuries were reported.

Gwendolyn Fikes told the newspaper her daughter's car was one of the vehicles that fell into to the chasm. Fikes said she and her daughter had stopped by the restaurant just minutes earlier when it happened.

"We'd been in there about three minutes," Fikes said and they suddenly heard a "boom."

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