Puerto Rican Natural Wonder, Punta Ventana, Collapses After Earthquake

January 7, 2020 Updated: January 7, 2020

One of Puerto Rico’s iconic natural wonders, a stone arch known as Punta Ventana, collapsed following an earthquake that shook the island.

“Playa Ventana has collapsed,” said Guayanilla spokesman Glidden Lopez, reported the Miami Herald. “Today our icon is nothing but a memory.”

The arch collapsed during the quake on Monday, which caused damage to buildings around the island. A subsequent earthquake on Tuesday triggered a state of emergency.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company confirmed in a statement that two other sites, Cueva Ventana and Ruinas del Faro, also suffered damage in the quake, reported USA Today.

Guayanilla resident Denniza Colon called the arch collapse of the arch “sad” and added that “it was one of the biggest tourism draws of Guayanilla,” she told the newspaper.

Instagram user SavingPuertoRico uploaded a post along with the caption: “One of Puerto Rico’s iconic natural wonders—a soaring stone arch along the southern coast known as Punta Ventana or Window Point—collapsed early Monday”

Puerto Rico, which is situated between the North America and Caribbean tectonic plates, is susceptible to earthquakes. Significant damage has been done in the past during tremors.

“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 Associated Press on Monday. “It lasted a long time.”

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vasquez declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard on Tuesday after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit just south of the island, leaving widespread damage in southern towns and killing at least one person.

A map showing the location of the earthquake just off the coast of Puerto Rico
A map showing the location of the earthquake just off the coast of Puerto Rico on Jan. 7, 2020. (USGS)

Vazquez said all public sector offices except for emergency services would remain closed on Tuesday while emergency plans were implemented. The emergency order and activation of the National Guard were later published on an official government website.

The quake, which was initially reported as a 6.6 magnitude, was the latest in a series of quakes that started on Dec. 28, 2019. It was the strongest yet.

The quake hit 5.4 miles (8 kilometers) south of Indios, 7 miles north of Guayanilla, and 14 miles east-northeast of Ponce. The temblor hit at 4:24 a.m., at a shallow depth of about 6 miles.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Caribbean area involves no fewer than four major plates and a number of “inclined zones of deep earthquakes.”

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.