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Earthquakes Destroy Punta Ventana, Puerto Rican Natural Wonder: 'Our Icon Is' Gone

People logo People 1/7/2020 Jason Duaine Hahn
a rocky beach next to a body of water © Getty

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.

RELATED: Tandem Earthquakes Cause Building Collapses and Power Outages in Puerto Rico: ‘This Is Hell’

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.

RELATED: ‘Come Visit Us, Help Us’: Why Tourists Are Vital to Puerto Rico’s Recovery After Hurricane Maria

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.

a car parked in front of a building: Damage caused by a pair of earthquakes that hit Puerto Rico on Monday | Carlos Giusti/AP/Shutterstock © Carlos Giusti/AP/Shutterstock Damage caused by a pair of earthquakes that hit Puerto Rico on Monday | Carlos Giusti/AP/Shutterstock

“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.

RELATED: One Year After After Deadly Hurricane Maria: ‘Puerto Rico Will Never Stop Crying’

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.

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