Earthquake Destroys Famous Natural Landmark in Puerto Rico

Punta Ventana prior to its collapse.
Image: Joelr31/Wikimedia

A picturesque Puerto Rican landmark, Punta Ventana, has collapsed following a magnitude 5.79 earthquake.

The earthquake struck today at 6:32 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. CBS News says there are no reports of injuries, but many buildings and roads have been damaged, and power outages have been reported across the island.

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Tragically, the earthquake has destroyed Punta Ventana, as the Miami Herald reports. Also known as Window Point, the precarious-looking rock arch appeared like a giant eye. All that remains of the iconic landmark is a sheer cliff—and a lone tree at the edge.

Speaking to the Miami Herald, local resident Denniza Colon said the collapse was “really sad,” as it was “one of the biggest tourism draws of Guayanilla,” which is on Puerto Rico’s southern coast.

According to travel site Puerto Rico Day Trips, Punta Ventana is located in a hard-to-reach area and is not visible from any nearby road—the only way to get access is through a private mango farm. The rock formation is located next to the State Forest & Biosphere Reserve, but it’s unlikely that people will now visit the the remains of Punta Ventana, as the beach is often cluttered with marine debris and the waves are rough, according to Puerto Rico Day Trips.

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Earthquakes have been occurring in the region since late December, but a tremor on January 3 damaged the Punta Ventana structure, “changing the shape of the window,” according to a spokesperson for the Guayanilla municipality, as reported by the Miami Herald. Today’s earthquake was the final blow, and “it finally fell,” Mayor Nelson Torres Yordán was quoted as saying in the New York Times.

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Sadly, we can now add Punta Ventana to a long list of natural landmarks that no longer exist, including the Wall Arch in Utah’s Arches National Park (collapsed in 2008), God’s Finger in Spain’s Canary Islands (destroyed during a tropical storm in 2005), and New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain (fell in 2003). And in 2017, California’s iconic Pioneer Cabin Tree finally took a tumble.

Today’s loss of Punta Ventana is a rude reminder that everything—even objects that have lasted for millions of years—will eventually crumble.

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About the author

George Dvorsky

George is a senior staff reporter at Gizmodo.