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Block-long hole swallows cars in Baltimore

BALTIMORE — A block-long section of a residential street collapsed during heavy rains Wednesday afternoon, sending cars sliding down a steep embankment onto railroad tracks and forcing the evacuation of several houses. No one was injured.

A sidewalk and retaining wall in the first block of 26th Street in Charles Village slid with mud and debris onto railroad tracks used by CSX, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake said at the scene.

Cars could be seen scattered like toys down the side of the embankment.

“We heard the rumble,” said Jim Correlli, manager of EZ Storage on North Charles and 26th Streets. “We jumped up and looked and there was nothing (but) the hole. It had all caved in: the trees, the lamppost, the stone wall.”

Balil McAllister, 15, who was visiting a friend on the block, said they also heard the rumbling and a “big thump,” which they thought was construction. He said he and his friend ran outside, “and all we could see was the road crumbling.”

His friend, Jeremiah McNair, 14, said, “I saw cars flipped over, falling down, rocks falling. The cars just kept falling.”

Rawlings-Blake, who traveled to the site, said all of the houses on the block had been evacuated, although she did not say how many.

She said the city was working to help those forced from their homes find shelter.

CSX officials released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying rail traffic in the area had been stopped.

Engineers from the Department of Public Works were checking the stability of the rest of the street and structures along it. Crews from Baltimore Gas and Electric were examining a gas line.

Rawlings-Blake said it was too soon to determine what caused the collapse. More than 3 inches of rain had fallen on the Baltimore area since Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

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