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Monsoon rains create massive sinkhole in Pakistan city

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By Jessie Yeung and Adeel Raja CNN

(CNN) -- Two massive sinkholes opened up in Lahore after relentless rain flooded the Pakistani city this week, leaving six people dead.

The sinkholes appeared Tuesday in front of the General Post Office on Mall Road, a major thoroughfare in an old part of the city, lined with buildings dating back to the colonial era. The area was cordoned off, disrupting traffic and attracting curious pedestrians.

By Wednesday night, the sinkholes had been filled, the road repaired, and traffic continued.

The larger sinkhole had been six meters (20 ft) deep, 15 meters (49 ft) long, and 12 meters (39 ft) wide, according to Amna Ikram, director general of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA). A second, smaller sinkhole had appeared close nearby.

A committee formed by Hassan Askari Rizvi, caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, is currently investigating the cause behind the sinkholes.

A number of open ducts near a building had caused water seepage, which traveled under the road and eroded subsoil, said LDA Chief Engineer Mazhar Khan. As a result, the road easily gave way during the downpour.

"We will be taking further action to ensure this does not happen again," Ikram told CNN.

The monsoon rains have left many of Lahore's streets underwater, causing breached canals and unstable buildings. Residents have resorted to rafting through streets and pushing their bikes in thigh-high water.

There have been six deaths in the last 24 hours, according to Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Two people died after a building collapsed, three drowned, and one died from electrocution, the authority said. There have also been 17 people reported injured from collapsed roofs and walls.

The NDMA warned residents on Tuesday to vacate dangerous buildings and to stay away from flash flood points.

The monsoon had swept from the east to Lahore, dumping over 200 mm (almost eight inches) of rainfall into the city over a two day period. Although flooding often occurs during the summer monsoon season, this seems to be the worst case in decades, and is unlikely to let up soon.

Thundershowers are expected to continue throughout Punjab province for at least 48 hours, the Regional Meteorological Center said on Wednesday.

Other parts of Pakistan are also expected to receive scattered showers and rainfall, with heavier rains later this month as the monsoon travels north.

CNN's Sophia Saifi and meteorologist Michael Guy contributed reporting.

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