Social media has been awash with photos of a people carrier that fell into a sinkhole in south-east London. The hole, believed to be a result of recent heavy rainfall in the city, opened up on Woodland Terrace, Charlton between Heathwood Gardens and Maryon Road.

sinkholes and craters
12 May 2016: A car fell into a hole that appeared in the road outside St Thomas' Church on Woodland Terrace in Charlton, near Greenwich, LondonMetropolitan Police

Sinkholes can occur naturally when an underground cavern collapses, often after heavy rain or flooding. Conversely, they can be caused by drought, as alterations in the water table level can cause chasms. The craters can also be man-made, resulting from construction works or burst water mains. In this gallery, IBTimesUK looks at sinkholes around the world.

sinkholes and craters
16 September 2015: A man looks at cars stuck in a sinkhole that occurred in a parking area after heavy rainfall hit Haikou, Hainan province, ChinaReuters
sinkholes and craters
9 September 2015: Workers look on as a car is stranded in a sinkhole on a street in Lanzhou, Gansu province, ChinaReuters
sinkholes and craters
6 September 2015: Onlookers stare at a car that fell into a sinkhole along a street in Beijing, ChinaReuters
sinkholes and craters
13 August 2015: An enormous sinkhole is seen at a construction site near residential and commercial buildings, in Dongguan, Guangdong province, China. Residents in nearby buildings were evacuated after a second sinkhole occurred at the construction site in two days. One worker was killed as the 300-square-metre area collapsedReuters
sinkholes and craters
5 June 2015: A police vehicle is seen trapped in a large sinkhole in Sheridan, Colorado, USAReuters
sinkholes and craters
24 March 2015: A car lies at the bottom of a large sinkhole believed to have been caused by an underground water main breaking in Amnboy, New Jersey, USAReuters
sinkholes and craters
7 January 2015: People look at a truck that got stuck in a sinkhole on a road in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, ChinaReuters
sinkholes and craters
12 December 2014: A car hangs over the edge of a deep hole on Yunlianghe Road in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, ChinaGetty Images
sinkholes and craters
27 November 2014: People try to pull out a car that fell into a hole after a road caved in in Quanzhou, Fujian province, ChinaReuters
sinkholes and craters
9 November 2014: A member of an expedition group stands on the edge of a newly formed crater on the Yamal Peninsula, northern SiberiaReuters
sinkholes and craters
28 September 2014: A car lies in a sinkhole that opened up on a road outside the Crimean capital Simferopol. Six people were reported to have died in the car that fell into the pitReuters
sinkholes and craters
15 September 2014: People try to push a taxi that got stuck on the edge of a hole after a road collapsed in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China. The city authority said two cave-ins occurred along the street after several days of continuous rainReuters
sinkholes and craters
5 September 2014: Workers pull a truck out of a sinkhole on a road during heavy monsoon rain in Lahore, Pakistan
sinkholes and craters
14 August 2014: Mancunian Way in Manchester is cordoned off after a sink hole appeared caused by heavy rainGetty Images
sinkholes and craters
14 August 2014: Workers look at a truck that fell into a large pit caused by a cave-in on a street in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, ChinaReuters
Pictures of the year weather
3 May 2014: People visit "The Gateway to Hell" – a huge burning gas crater in Turkmenistan's Karakum desert. In 1971 Soviet scientists drilled into an underground cavern and a deep sinkhole formed. Fearing that the crater would emit poisonous gases, they set it alight, thinking that the gas would burn out quickly. But the flames have not gone out in more than 40 yearsIgor Sasin/AFP
sinkhole uk
6 February 2014: Concrete is poured into a 4.5 metre (15 feet) wide sinkhole that swallowed a car on the driveway of a house in Walters Ash, near High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, EnglandReuters
sinkholes and craters
27 October 2013: People look at a large sinkhole that opened up on a street in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China, after a water pipe burst underneath itReuters
5 August 2013: A forklift lies on its side after it was swallowed by a sinkhole on Saint-Catherine Street in Montreal, CanadaReuters
china lorry
27 July 2013: People look at a tanker after it fell into a large ditch on a road in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, ChinaReuters
woman driving
3 July 2013: Pamela Knox waits to be rescued after a massive sinkhole opened up underneath her car in Toledo, Ohio, USA. Fire officials said a water main burst caused the road to collapse suddenlyReuters
china body
21 May 2013: Rescue workers retrieve the body of a victim of a road cave-in in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, ChinaReuters
18 April 2013: Workers prepare to pull a truck from a sinkhole that opened up on a residential street in Chicago. The driver was hospitalised after driving into the 15-feet-deep hole while on his way to work. Two other vehicles were also swallowed by the sinkholeAP
flordia house
3 March 2013: Demolition crews and Hillsborough County Fire Department watch as the house where Jeffrey Bush was swallowed by a sinkhole, is demolished in Seffner, Florida. Rescue workers ended their efforts to recover the body of Bush, who disappeared into the sinkhole that swallowed his bedroom while he sleptReuters
china workers
27 May 2012: Workers repair a caved-in portion on a road in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, ChinaReuters
19 July 2011: A man examines a 12-metre-deep (40 feet) sinkhole that opened up under the bed of a pensioner in Guatemala City. Inocenta del Rosal Hernandez, 65, awoke to a loud noise and found the earth under her bed had imploded, creating a perfect circular pitReuters
1 November 2010: An aerial view of a large crater that appeared in the early hours in the central German town of Schmalkalden. A huge hole measuring 30 by 40 metres opened up in the middle of a residential estateReuters
guatemala sinkhole
31 May 2010: A giant sinkhole in Guatemala City around 65ft (20m) across and 100ft (30m) deep suddenly opened up, swallowing a three-storey factoryReuters
landslide germany
18 July 2009: The remains of a home at the bottom of a huge hole in the village of Nachterstedt. Three residents were missing in the eastern German village after their lakeside home and another building were destroyed when a 350-metre stretch of shoreline gave wayReuters
3 October 2007: A massive 200x240 feet section of collapsed road is pictured in the Mount Soledad neighbourhood of La Jolla near San Diego, California. A landslide damaged or destroyed six homes and forced the evacuation of at least 20 othersGetty
china road
25 April 2007: People look at a collapsed section of Shunwai Road in Nanchang, China's Jiangxi provinceReuters
italy cars
30 March 2007: Cars lie in a sinkhole, caused when a road which collapsed into an underground cave system, in the southern Italian town of GallipoliReuters
30 April 2004: Rescue workers try to remove a car which fell into a flooded hole on Borges de Medeiros avenue in Rio de Janeiro. The driver had left the door open on the passenger side and could only look on as the vehicle sank into the hole. A water mains under the street ruptured overnight, causing the sinkholeReuters