An enormous crater-like hole had appeared in the town overnight, splitting the road in two and taking with it a car.
Another car dangled precariously over the edge and a row of garages looked in danger of collapsing in the usually quiet residential district.
Where did that come from! This giant hole looks as though it should have been created by a meteorite crashing into the ground. It's actually a landslide that residents in the German town of Schmalkalden woke up to this morning
Residents from 23 nearby buildings have been evacuated whilst investigators try and determine the cause of the landslide.
Amazingly, nobody was injured and police remain baffled.
Lutz Katschmann of Thuringia state's environment and geology office said it wasn't immediately clear why the ground gave way, the German news agency DAPD reported.
Katschmann said it was possible that rock formations underground broke up, creating a cavity.
Authorities plan to fill the hole with gravel.
Evacuated: Amazing, no-one was injured although the hole did swallow up a car and residents from 23 buildings close to the landslide have been evacuated while the damage is assessed
Bigger than a house: Seen in the context of nearby houses, this aerial shot shows the massive size of the gaping hole. The cause of the landslide is still unclear
Meanwhile in Italy, another landslide took a more tragic turn. A mother and her two year old son were found embraced in death after being caught up in a mudslide that engulfed their home following heavy rain, Italian firefighters revealed today.
Nera Ricci, 39, and little Mattia Guadagnucci, two, were discovered buried under a metre of mud after an all night search by rescuers at their hillside home.
Her husband Antonio Guadagnucci, 48, cheated death as he was in the bathroom at the time and daughter Michela, 15, escaped the tragedy as she was at a Hallowe'en party when the tons of mud slammed into their home.
The tragedy took place near Massa in Tuscany after (220mm) nine inches of heavy rain in 12 hours brought the side of a hill crashing down and today/yesterday rescuers were still searching for another man, missing believed killed.
Disaster: Heavy rain in central Italy is thought to have triggered a mudslide in the hillside town of Massa, causing the deaths of Nera Ricci and her two-year-old son Mattia who were buried inside their house
'They were in the main bedroom of the house when the hill gave way - the husband only escaped being killed because a minute beforehand he had got up to go to the bathroom.'
Five people have been killed in landslides in Tuscany within the last month and more bad weather is forecast for the next 48 hours with officials saying residents of Massa will have to be evacuated as a precaution.
Elsewhere across Italy heavy rain led to a train being derailed at Imperia while residents in Vicenza near Venice were told to keep off the roads and not use cars because of severe flooding.
Several schools had also been closed because of the flooding while in the Alps the rain was falling as snow with depths of up to 80cm (two and half feet) in places above 2,000m (6,000ft).
Lucky escape: Nera Ricci's husband narrowly escaped death as he was in the bathroom when the mud slammed into the house and the couple's 15-year-old daughter was out at a Halloween party