A British family was left just “three seconds from death” after a huge sinkhole opened just centimetres from their backdoor.

The shocking incident happened to Halesowen on November 20, and left residents unable to be at home during Christmas.

It happened outside Haden Arch Court, and local man Harry Chadha said he was standing in the stop where the hole emerged just three seconds before it the ground caved in.

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Speaking to the Express and Star, Mr Chadha, who has not yet been allowed to return home to get any belongings, said: “I must have done something good somewhere because I should be dead. “Three seconds earlier and I would have been a goner.

“The sinkhole was deep, I don’t think they would have ever found my body.

“What scared me was the gas gushing out of the hole, but initially I was still told it was OK to stay there that night.”

Mr Chadha has been forced to find a rental property to move into, after being told it would take “months” to sort out.

Christmas was ruined for the man, who claims the whole was 70ft deep, as he was not allowed home for the festive period.

Severn Trent Water, however, said it was just 15ft deep.

An evacuation was ordered by West Midlands Fire Service and gas officials when the hole first emerged, and work has been ongoing to fill the hole back up, while another hole was made in order for surface water to be collected.

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It has been confirmed by the water company that it was caused by a collapsed sewer.

A Severn Trent spokesman said: “The sinkhole has appeared due to a damaged sewer pipe, which was built over without the correct build over agreement, meaning the foundations of the building are very close to the pipe.

“This means it will be a complicated and complex repair with access issues, and will take time to complete.”

“We stepped in to support the residents of Haden Arch since the end of November, despite Severn Trent not being at fault, and as a gesture of goodwill, we have provided alternative accommodation for some of the residents, as this is clearly a distressing time for everyone, especially over the holidays.”

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