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SAPPORO (Kyodo) Hokkaido police launched a probe Friday into the death of a female golfer who fell into a sinkhole and drowned on a golf course Thursday.

Takae Gassho, 38, was walking along the fairway with her husband and two sons at the Le Petaw links in Abira at around 2:20 p.m. Thursday when she suddenly disappeared into a hole.

After Gassho fell into the water-filled hole, which measured about 5 meters deep and 1 1/2 meters wide, her family tried to pull her out, but she lost consciousness and drowned, the police said.

According to the police, her 10-year-old younger son witnessed his mother fall into the hole, which is believed to have been caused by soil-erosion due to groundwater from a nearby pond.

The boy was quoted as telling police he hadn’t noticed a hole, or any depression in the ground, while they were walking along the fairway.

The police may look to establish a case against the operator of the golf course on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death.

Its employees were quoted as saying they did not find any irregularities on the fairway during a routine check.

Hideki Yamamoto, deputy manager of Le Petaw, also said he wasn’t aware of any problems, adding that more than 300 customers had played on the fairway since the golf course resumed business on March 28 after being closed for the winter.

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