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Property developer: We knew the ground conditions

"We knew the ground conditions. The structure of the homes took into account the conditions and that's why there was piling.

That's why there are concrete beams.

That's why the timber frame and the structure has held out well when a hole opened up under one of the houses; the house didn't collapse into it."

– Peter Bogle, Chief Executive, HPCHA

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Engineering geologists assess safety of ground

"You have a solid steel cone which you're driving into the ground with a hammer and you're measuring the blow counts of that hammer.

The numbers give us the feedback of whether the ground is hard or soft, for example if the blow count is 1 or 2 its clearly weak. If it's ten then it's clearly much firmer, much harder."

– Dr Clive Edmonds, Peter Brett Associates

Sinkhole could keep people out of their homes for a further 3 months

by Martin Stew

It's nearly two weeks since a ten metre wide and 6 metre deep sinkhole opened up in Hemel Hempsted.

Forty eight homes in the surrounding housing estate had to be evacuated and are still empty today.

Watch Martin Stew's report:

The sinkhole has been temporarily filled with concrete whilst engineering geologists assess whether the ground is now safe. They're now probing in sixty locations to see how firm the ground is from the surface to a depth of fifteen metres.

The developer who build the homes five years ago says he is hopeful people can move back into 44 of the 48 properties soon.

He says the timber design of the homes build on concrete foundations means they have stood up well to the damage.

The other four homes could require serious underpinning and early estimates show it could be at least three months before people can move back in.

National

Homes evacuated after 20-foot-deep sinkhole appears

Seventeen homes have been evacuated after a 35-foot-wide and 20-foot-deep sinkhole opened in Hemel Hempstead, north of London this morning.

Pictures of what is believed to be the sinkhole have already appeared on Twitter:

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Look at the size of this sinkhole in at woodland end In Hemel LOL roads closed the lot http://t.co/4Wij3xEm4g

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Stabbed man named

Police have named the man as Thomas Baird. He'd been stabbed and was pronounced dead in the early hours of Saturday after the blaze at his home in Westerdale, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

A post-mortem examination carried out yesterday concluded that the 63-year-old died of trauma to the head and neck, and stab wounds to the chest.

A 30-year-old man from Hemel Hempstead, who was arrested on suspicion of murder on Saturday, remains in police custody.

Man arrested after house fire death

A 30-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a fatal house fire, police said tonight.

Hertfordshire Police said a man believed to be in his 60s was pronounced dead at the scene of the blaze in Westerdale, Hemel Hempstead, early today.

Emergency crews were alerted to the fire at 12.06am and scenes of crime officers were working with specialist fire brigade investigators to determine the cause.

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