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Farmer swallowed up by giant 60ft sinkhole which opened up as he rode quad bike

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A farmer found himself at the centre of a dramatic rescue operation on Thursday after being "swallowed" up by a 60ft sinkhole.

The man, who has not been named, was riding a quad bike on land near Barrow in the Lake District when he suddenly disappeared.

Firefighters scrambled to the scene, around midday, and used specialist rescue equipment to pull the rider to safety.

Pictures show more than a dozen rescuers carrying out the daring operation.

He was airlifted to hospital, where he remains on Friday being treated for chest injuries. The extent of those injuries are not yet known.

According to those on the scene, at Bowesfield Farm, the sinkhole was around eight feet wide and 60ft deep.

Ian Westall, of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, told the BBC: "We peered down and could see the farmer sat up, and we could just make out the outline of his bike under a mound of earth.

"I'm sure he was in deep shock.

"The ground just fell away with the weight of the bike on that particular spot and he was swallowed up into the sinkhole."

Around the area where the incident happened there are several abandoned iron ore mines from the 19th Century, which are known to cause sinkholes.

A sinkhole is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer.

It is believed it have been caused by an old iron ore mine below the ground.

Mr Westall said: "Obviously, with unstable ground and people on the surface unsighted, there was an inherent risk.

"We had to make sure the rescuers weren't going to be involved in any further movement or collapse of the ground, so we widened the cordon area and had only those directly involved in the rescue at the scene."

A fire service spokesman said: "Earlier today, crews from Barrow and Ulverston attended an incident where an individual had fallen 60ft into a sinkhole in a field whilst riding a quad bike.

"Alongside our colleagues from Mountain Rescue, we were able to bring the individual to safety using line rescue equipment.

"An excellent multi-agency team effort from Barrow Fire Station, Ulverston Firestation, Cumbria Police, Great North Air Ambulance Service and North West Ambulance Service."

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