Corvette Sinkhole: 8 Rare Cars Swallowed Up By 40-Foot Hole Inside Kentucky Museum [VIDEO]

By Josh Lieberman on February 13, 2014 1:38 PM EST

Corvette sinkhole
A sinkhole at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., swallowed eight of the rare vehicles on Wednesday morning. (Photo: National Corvette Museum)

A sinkhole opened up at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., on Wednesday morning, damaging eight Corvettes worth millions of dollars. Motion detectors at the museum went off at around 5:40 A.M., tipping off security and then the Bowling Green Fire Department. When responders arrived, they found eight extremely valuable cars at the bottom of a 40-foot-wide, 30-foot-deep sinkhole. (See video below.) No one was injured, and the rest of the building experienced no structural damage.

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"When you go in there, it's unreal," said museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli. "The hole is so big, it makes the Corvettes look like little Matchbox cars."

The Kentucky museum is like a holy space for Corvette lovers, according to CNN's Thom Patterson, who wrote about the experience of visiting the space. "I've been there. It's hallowed ground. Under the Sky Dome's recognizable red spire and towering vaulted 100-foot high ceiling sits a round chamber that cradled rare vehicles, including Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 pace cars. The room feels like a cathedral. And for many enthusiasts, it is kind of the Church of the Corvette. It is home to more than 70 unique Corvettes, including several prototypes and a unique 1983 model-the only one in existence."

The Corvette Museum said that the following cars fell prey the sinkhole, though there's no word yet on how badly damaged the cars are.

—1993 ZR-1 Spyder
—2009 ZR1 "Blue Devil"
—1984 PPG Pace Car
—1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette
—1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette
—2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette
—2009 White 1.5 Millionth Corvette

"We're just tickled that no one was hurt; that thing was deep," said Greg Wallace, manager of the General Motors Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Mich. (Corvette is made by Chevrolet, a division of General Motors.) "We really don't know yet what the value of the cars is, but we'll fix them up and you'll never know they were damaged."

The karst topography of south central Kentucky makes the area susceptible to sinkholes. Although builders "did do their due diligence" when constructing the museum, according to Bowling Green city hydrologist Tim Slattery, underground water can carry soil away over time, weakening the ground above it. In karst areas like south central Kentucky, dissolvable, underground minerals like limestone and gypsum means a higher likelihood of sinkholes. Once water carries away all those minerals and soil, the ground just gives out.

"It's not uncommon for us to see sinkhole collapses," said city spokeswoman Kim Lancaster. "Most are significantly smaller than the one we have today."

READ MORE:

Louisiana Sinkhole: Trees Swallowed In Seconds As 24-Acre Sinkhole Expands [VIDEO] 

Ancient Roman Tunnels Could Cause Dangerous Sinkholes; Geologists Mapping Rome's Underground Maze

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