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Workers still trying to stabilize sinkhole

Workers tried Tuesday to stabilize a giant sinkhole where two people died when it opened up in a hotel parking lot.

Severe storms that overwhelmed an old sewer pipe early Monday apparently caused the sinkhole, which is more than 100 feet wide and now about 50 feet deep.

Victoria Vaynshteyn, 26, died when her car was swallowed up by the sinkhole as she arrived for work at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

The other victim, Oscar Cano, 33, was a restaurant worker at the hotel. He apparently was in the parking lot looking for someone to jump-start his car when the sinkhole swallowed him up shortly before dawn, a family friend said.

Authorities had no reason to believe anyone else had been swallowed by the hole, but they didn't rule it out.

"We will still be moving gingerly on the possibility that another person is down there," said Douglas Hooker, the city's acting public works commissioner.

Authorities warned that the hole could widen if more rain fell.

The storms, which hit Atlanta before dawn, apparently flooded a 70-year-old drainage pipe under the parking lot, causing the pipe to burst and the sinkhole to form, authorities said.

Just four days before, the city had been called in to inspect cracks around a manhole and in a retaining wall at the parking lot.

City workers were scheduled Monday to begin correcting the cracks and applying steel reinforcements to the sewer line, but the pipe collapsed before they could begin, Hooker said.

Hooker said the parking lot had been under 24-hour watch since Thursday's call about the cracks, and a section of the lot had been cordoned off. Authorities could not say whether the dead woman's car was inside the cordoned area.

Hooker said he couldn't determine if the city was at fault for not moving to correct the cracks sooner. "We'll have to bring in specialists to investigate," he said.

Authorities said improper construction of the 3-year-old parking lot also could be to blame for the sinkhole.

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