A famous rock formation and tourist landmark in Puerto Rico was destroyed when the island was hit by two earthquakes on Monday morning.
Punta Ventana, a stone arch shaped like a window and located beside the ocean of Puerto Rico’s southern coast, was destroyed after the Caribbean island was rocked by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake early Monday morning. A 5.1 magnitude quake followed just hours later.
“Playa Ventana has collapsed,” said Guayanilla spokesman Glidden Lopez, according to the Miami Herald. “Today our icon is nothing but a memory.”
The AP reported last week that the island was experiencing rare seismic activity, with a 4.5 magnitude quake striking on Jan. 2. The activity began on Dec. 28 with a 4.7-magnitude quake followed by another measuring 5.1.
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez said no one was hurt during Monday’s quakes, while photographs posted to social media showed damaged structures around the U.S. territory. One picture showed two cars that had been completely crushed under a building.
[GUAYANILLA] Desaparece la ventana natural en Punta Ventana, Guayanilla. pic.twitter.com/IN0LI7XuKK— UPRM Meteorological Laboratory (@UPRMetLab) January 6, 2020
The quakes hit just as the island was preparing for Three Kings Day, a religious holiday comparable to Christmas Day that is known for social gatherings and gift-giving.
The UPRM Meteorological Laboratory tweeted a picture of Punta Ventana after the quakes. The heartbreaking photograph showed a massive portion of the arch had been turned into rubble.
According to the New York Times, the arch appeared to weaken over the last week as the island was hit by the flurry of small quakes.
Since the tremors began last month, Puerto Rico has experienced more than a thousand quakes, most of them too small to feel.
“It finally fell,” Guayanilla Mayor Nelson Torres Yordán simply said after news of the landmark’s destruction spread.
Speaking to the Herald, Guayanilla resident Denniza Colon called the collapse of the arch “sad.”
“It was one of the biggest tourism draws of Guayanilla,” she told the newspaper.
No tsunami warnings were issued after the quakes.
“This is one of the strongest quakes to date since it started shaking on December 28,” Angel Vazquez, emergency management director for the city of Ponce, told the AP of the quakes that occurred Monday morning. “It lasted a long time.”
As noted by USA Today, Puerto Rico was hit by a massive 7.3 magnitude earthquake in October 1918 that sparked a tsunami and killed 116 people.