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The Russian City Swallowed by Sinkholes

The city of Berezniki, in Russia’s Ural Mountains, is slowly sinking into the earth. The city of more than 150,000 individuals was built directly on top of a potash mine, which was standard practice during Soviet times. After nearly a century of extraction, deep voids were left underneath the city. The ceilings of these huge underground caverns are supported only by walls and pillars of soluble salt. In 2006, when a freshwater spring began flowing into the mine some 720 to 1,500 feet below the surface, it dissolved the supporting pillars and the city came crashing down.

A significant part of the residential districts and enterprises of the city are affected by the sinkholes. The largest of them nicknamed “The Grandfather,” is nearly 1,300 feet across and more than 650 feet deep. It threatens to engulf the only rail line which leads from the potash mines. Berezniki produces around ten percent of the world’s potash, and the mines are the city’s biggest employer. Closure of the mines would be damaging to the local economy.

Officials are debating whether to relocate the entire city to the opposite bank of the Kama River, where the bedrock is solid. About 12,000 residents have already left Berezniki for stable grounds, but the rest who’ve decided to stay put will have to keep close watch.

Possible Preaching Angles:

As Jesus taught, a life needs to be built on a solid foundation (Matt 7:24-27). Many people have deep voids in their lives caused by ignoring what type of foundation they are building their lives on. But when the foundations are shaken, only believers will be secure (Ps 46:1-2).


Kaushik, “Berezniki: The Russian City Swallowed by Sinkholes,” Amusing Planet (5-3-19)

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