World's biggest drain hole is terrifying 'portal to the middle of the Earth'

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The Morning Glory Spillway in California (Image: Shutterstock / RelentlessImages)
The Morning Glory Spillway in California (Image: Shutterstock / RelentlessImages)

Dramatic images shows water swirling down into the world’s largest drain hole dubbed a "portal to the middle of the Earth" where a person tragically died when she got caught in the current.

Called Morning Glory Spillway, the man-made hole empties water from Lake Berryessa at the Monticello Dam in California to stop flooding. It was built in the 1950s with a diameter of 22 metres and the dam serves as part of an irrigation system with Lake Berryessa a reservoir providing water for agriculture in the Sacramento Valley.

YouTuber Matt Casias sent a drone over the top of the drain hole to capture an amazing view of the water swirling down the 93 metres from the dam. The drain hole can be seen functioning when the water reaches a high level in the dam.

Tragically a woman was killed in the drain hole in 1997 when she was caught in the current and swept down. Emily Schwalek was paddling in the lake and couldn’t stop being dragged to the hole, with reports saying that she held onto the rim for about 20 minutes before falling. Lake Berryessa can hold around a 52billion gallons of water before the excess begins to flow into the spillway.

The lake reached full capacity for the first time in 11 years back in 2018 and after a season of heavy rainfall it attracted thousands of curious onlookers a year later. Today, the hole is no longer a safety hazard, as the reservoir is roped off and prohibits swimming or boating.

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Drone footage of the hole has gone viral ever since it was posted on social media back in 2018, and it has raked in more than a million views. Some online viewers were spooked by the spectacle.

World's biggest drain hole is terrifying 'portal to the middle of the Earth'The drain hole seen from above (Ken Cantrell/Zuma Wire/REX/Shutterstock)

One comment read: “Why is there a giant hole in the middle of the lake where people swim, and why is there not a rope around?” And another stated: “That right there is the portal to hell.”

Similar to the “portal from hell” in California, a fiery pit in Kazakhstan earned itself a similar nickname in the early 1970s when the ground collapsed during a Soviet gas drilling expedition. The hole is 20 metres deep and 60 metres wide. It is located in the Karakum Desert, about 160 miles north of capital city Ashgabat.

Tim Hanlon

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