A car has fallen down a huge hole in Charlton.

No one was in the vehicle when part of Woodland Terrace collapsed overnight.

The road has been closed between Heathwood Gardens and Maryon Road, with police at the scene and the 380 bus route on diversion.

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Photo: @MPSGreenwich

Police were called by members of the public at about 3.20am to Woodland Terrace, which is currently blocked outside St Thomas' Church.

The car has now been crane-lifted out of the hole, although it is unclear how long the road will remain closed.

The hole appeared after heavy rain fell in the area overnight.

Denehole NOT sinkhole

News Shopper understands the hole is not a sinkhole as has been widely reported, but rather a denehole.

While sinkholes are naturally occurring, deneholes are caused by man-made structures - often the result of underground chalk mines.

Above the chalk lies a layer of sand, which in wet weather becomes saturated and heavy, falling into voids in the chalk.

This can cause the ground to collapse.

According to archeologists, a cave in chalk was discovered underneath the level of the railway line while excavating one of the tunnels between Charlton and Woolwich Dockyard stations, underneath Maryon Park, in 1849.

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Photo: PA

Mark Backhouse, CEO of mining experts TerraFirma Mine Searches, told News Shopper there have been six recorded deneholes in the Hanging Wood area - which includes Maryon Park - which is just a couple of hundred meters from today's hole.

He said: "The area is known to be riddled with chalk mines. It is not uncommon for deneholes to appear.

"99 per cent of the holes you see on the news in this country are deneholes, not sinkholes."

Just ten days ago, a hole emerged outside a home in newly built Brickfield Cottages in Plumstead.

Archaeologists argued the crater was caused by a mining collapse in the depths below the cottages.

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Photo: @hjakeways

'Not a good day'

The seven-seater Vauxhall Zafira was left on the road by Ghazi Hassan, who was visiting his brother on Wednesday night.

The owner of a car said he is "thankful" his family were not hurt in the incident.

Mr Hassan said: "In life you have good days and bad days. This morning wasn't a good day.

"But I'm thankful me or my family wasn't in the car."

He added: "I've told the insurance. They are coming to pick it up and repair it so that's the positive side, and that no-one was injured."

Mr Ghazi's brother, Abdul Ahmadzai, added: "He left it here last night after he came round with his wife. He's on his way here now."

"The police were here about 4am so I came outside and saw the car - they said it was in a hole. I thought 'There's nothing I can do' and went back to sleep."

His brother had owned the car for three or four years, he added.

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Photo: PA

'I thought it was thunder'

Cleo O'Kane, 25, who lives opposite where the hole opened up, said police told her some residents might have to be evacuated.

She said: "I thought it was thunder - I heard a loud bang, but it was raining so much I thought it was thunder.

"It must have been around 4am. I woke up and then just went back to sleep - my window was open - then woke up at six this morning, came outside and there was a car in a hole.

"I've been here for eight years and have never seen anything like this happen."

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Photo: Graham Alger

She added: "Police said they don't know what's going on. They said the car is stuck on a gas pipe or a water pipe. They might have to evacuate all the houses."

Reverend Erica Wooff, the rector of Charlton, who lives next door to the church, said her initial reaction was "Oh my goodness, there's a hole in the road".

"There was a massive storm last night. It has been raining constantly for the past two days but I didn't hear tarmac rip open," she said.

"I've been here for eight years, I've never seen anything like this."

Rev Wooff confirmed the church was closed and that she was working with the community and authorities.

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Reader Matt Woollett's version of the Charlton hole

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What now?

A Greenwich Council spokesman said: "Royal Borough of Greenwich officers are on site and are continuing to work closely with Southern Gas Networks (SGN), Thames Water and the police to ensure that the situation is contained.

"As an immediate measure, the road has been closed to traffic.

"We are ensuring that Thames Water and SGN are communicating with households at the scene. We will be issuing more information as it is received.

"The Royal Borough of Greenwich will always have an interest in the welfare of, and inconvenience to, local residents."

Do you live near the hole? Get in touch by emailing patrickgg@london.newsquest.co.uk