A rock formation at a popular tourist attraction in Puerto Rico has collapsed after a powerful earthquake shook the island.
The Punta Ventana stone arch fell into the sea on Monday morning during the latest in a series of earthquakes.
The 5.8 magnitude quake struck 6km below the coast of the Caribbean Island.
While houses and property were damaged, there were no reported casualties or tsunami warnings in the wake of the tremor. However, the rock arch didn’t get away so lightly.
The Punta Ventana was one of the area’s most popular draws for tourists, both domestic and international.
Denniza Colon, 22, was shocked to visit the beach and see the rock formation she had grown up beside no longer there.
“This is really sad,” she told the Miami Herald. “It was one of the biggest tourism draws of Guayanilla.”
Monday’s quake was the latest, and largest, in a series that have shaken the island over the New Year. It struck at around 6.32am, as the US territory woke up to discover damage to houses and roads blocked by landslides.
The Punta was one of several naturally occurring stone arches or “windows” on the island. However, it was by far the most dramatic and featured frequently on tourism brochures and guide books.
The local tourism industry revolved around the rock formation and marketed itself under the slogan “Guayanilla – The New Window on the Caribbean”.
However there were signs that the Punta Ventana rock window’s lifespan was drawing to a close. During an earlier minor quake on January 3, part of the eye had already broken off from seismic activity.
“Playa Ventana has collapsed. Today our icon rests in everyone’s memory,” said Glidden López, a press officer for the local council.
The loss of the arch has come as another blow to the island’s struggling tourism industry, which was given a boosted tourism budget of $25 million and a Brand USA campaign as a stimulus to help recover from earlier natural disasters.
Puerto Rico as an overseas territory of the United States is home to 3.2 million people, many of whom are still living with the consequences of 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
The Category 5 storm killed an estimated 2975 people and left a damage bill in the billions.
This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and was reproduced with permission