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May 26, 2017

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Japanese woman killed in golf course sinkhole plunge

Tokyo -- A Japanese woman playing golf with her family has died in a freak accident after the turf under her feet collapsed and she plunged into a 5m-deep cavern, police say.

A golf course official said the hollow space just below the turf might have been formed by spring-time mountain snow melt flowing through soil below the golf course fairway on Japan's far-northern island of Hokkaido.

Local authorities were investigating yesterday's deadly accident, which happened as the woman was playing golf with her husband and two children.

"We heard from firefighters that ... all of a sudden she fell into the hole in front of her 10-year-old son," a local police official said.

The woman, Takae Gassho, 38, from Sapporo, was dead when emergency officials pulled her from the hole at the Le Petaw Golf Club, which had only reopened the previous weekend after the winter season.

Officials said she might have lost consciousness in the fall and then drowned in a puddle of water at the bottom of the cavern, where the hole was more than 3m wide, reports said.

A Hokkaido Golf Association official said that normally golf clubs conducted visual check-ups every day but no one could have noticed that a hollow space was quietly forming underground.

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