A man inspects a sinkhole formed in a house on July 19, 2011 in the north of Guatemala City. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
But for a woman in Guatemala City, it was all too real. On Monday, 65-year-old Inocenta Hernandez was shocked by a loud boom, which she assumed was the explosion of a neighbor’s gas canister.
Instead, it was a sinkhole 40 feet deep and 32 inches in diameter that had formed beneath her bed, the Guardian reports.
Guatemala City is prone to sinkholes because it is built on volcanic deposits and has heavy rain. But sinkholes, or depressions in the earth formed by natural erosion, can be found worldwide. Sinkholes can occur over time or suddenly, and range from three to 2,000 feet both in diameter and depth. They can swallow three story buildings when they form. Or cars with people still inside them.
See photos of past sinkholes around the world:
A sinkhole created by tropical storm Agatha covers a street intersection in dowtown of Guatemala City on May 30, 2010. (STR/ASSOCIATED PRESS) City officials survey a 60-foot-deep sinkhole that swallowed two homes in San Francisco's exclusive Sea Cliff district and forced the evacuation of nine other homes, Dec. 11, 1995. The hole measured approximately 200 feet by 150 feet and the fire department said was probably caused by a broken sewer pipe. (GEORGE NIKITIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS) An unidentified Nevada Department of Transportation employee stands next to a large sinkhole , Jan. 3, 2006,, that shut down State Route 342, north of Silver City, Nev. (CHAD LUNDQUIST/ASSOCIATED PRESS) John Sparkman is dwarfed as he looks into a sinkhole near Picher, Okla., April 6, 2008. Years of lead and zinc mining has left turned the town into a superfund site with sinkholes, lead-laced mountains of rock, and tainted water. (Charlie Riedel/ASSOCIATED PRESS) Emergency personnel stand watch over a giant sinkhole that opened up inside the Woodhill Apartment complex in Orlando, Fla., June 11, 2002, forcing dozens of residents to evacuate their apartments. The 60-foot deep, 50-foot wide sinkhole in west Orange County continued to expand during the evening as neighbors watched. The sinkhole swallowed two trees and a recreation trail. (PHELAN M. EBENHACK/ASSOCIATED PRESS) State regulators’ “worst nightmare” happened in June 1994 when a cavernous hole, 106 ft. wide by 185 ft. deep, opened in the center of an IMC-Agrico waste stack near Mulberry, Fla., like a scene out of Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth." The sinkhole, shown in photo taken July 13, 1994, at IMC-Agrico's New Wales plant released 20.8 million pounds of liquid phosphoric acid into the ground below. (Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS) A Los Angeles firefighter looks under a fire truck stuck in a sinkhole in the Valley Village neighborhood of Los Angeles Sept. 8, 2009. Four firefighters escaped injuryafter their fire engine sunk into a large hole caused by a burst water main in the San Fernando Valley, authorities said. (Nick Ut/ASSOCIATED PRESS) This is an aerial view of the scene where a structure collapsed in Guatemala City, Feb. 23, 2007. A giant sinkhole swallowed several homes and at least one truck in Guatemala City, and officials said at least three people had been reported missing. (STR/ASSOCIATED PRESS)