— CLERMONT, Fla. (AP) — As glass broke, the ground shook and lights went out, vacationers evacuated a central Florida resort building before a sinkhole caused a section of the villa to partially collapse early Monday.
About 30 percent of the three-story structure collapsed around 3 a.m. Monday, Lake County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Tony Cuellar said, and another section was sinking.
Witnesses told The Associated Press they could hear a cracking sound as the villa began sinking. A large crack was visible at the building's base.
Luis Perez, who was staying at a villa near the sinking one, said he was in his room when the lights went off around 11:30 p.m. He said he was on his way to the front desk to report the outage when he saw firefighters and police outside.
"I started walking toward where they were at and you could see the building leaning and you could see a big crack at the base of the building," said Perez, 54, of Berona, N.J.
Maggie Ghamry, a guest at the resort, said that when she first heard shaking and glass breaking, she thought it might be kids running down the hall.
"Next thing I know, people are yelling 'get out of the building, get out of the building,'" she said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Paul Caldwell, the development's president, said 48 three-story units are a total loss. The resort has about 900 units spread over a large area about 10 miles west of Walt Disney World.
He said a window popped in one of the rooms about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. A woman ran outside and flagged down a security guard, who notified management. Another window then popped and a decision was made to immediately evacuate the building, Caldwell said. The process took 10 to 15 minutes, he said.