Sinkhole that Trapped Australian Woman was an Old Well
Sinkhole in the Springvale South backyardTwitter Photo File, Jo Hall

Hours after a woman was "swallowed" by a sinkhole filled with water in the back yard of her friend's house in south-east Melbourne, Australia, a council confirmed that it was actually an old well that had been covered up with timber and grass.

The 52-year-old Christina Beaumont was hanging clothes when the ground beneath her gave way on Tuesday. The sinkhole was around 10 feet deep and 2 feet wide.

Beaumont shouted for help for almost half an hour as she swam in the water.

Paramedic, Stephanie Palamberis, informed that at one point Beaumont's head went under the water and since she wasn't able to touch the bottom, she had to swim.

"The woman told us she was hanging washing out in the backyard at about 11.30am when the ground gave way. She fell with the dirt and mud, dropping about three metres and landing in waist-deep water. The woman told us she couldn't touch the bottom of the hole, so was trying to swim and stay afloat, to avoid the risk of further mud collapses," she said, the Telegraph reports.

Hearing Beaumont's cries, the neighbours contacted emergency services. Beaumont was rescued by firefighters and immediately taken to a hospital. Just after the rescue operation, the emergency services said that it was a sinkhole, but the greater Dandenong City council confirmed later that it was in fact an old well that had not been filled properly.

Beaumont was admitted to the hospital after suffering a blockage to her heart from hypothermia.

Operations Officer Paul Carrigg said: "This was a very unusual incident. Fortunately the lady has escaped without injury though she was obviously shaken up."

A hole in the ground that is created by erosion and drainage of water is called a sinkhole. Sinkholes can be just a few feet deep or sometimes large enough to even swallow buildings.