Powerful Quake Destroys Famed Natural Wonder in Puerto Rico

The Punta Ventana natural arch was a popular tourist draw in the southwest town of Guayanilla.

Powerful Quake Destroys Famed Natural Wonder in Puerto Rico

Punta Ventana in January 2019 before it fell in January 2020

Photo by Edgar Gracia via AP

One of Puerto Rico’s most popular landmarks collapsed on Monday after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit the island, the Associated Press reports. The coastal rock formation known as Punta Ventana was a popular tourist draw in the southwest town of Guayanilla, located a 45-minute drive west of Ponce.

The rock formation got its name—which translates to “Window Point” in English—from the rounded window shape the arch resembled. Photos from before and after the earthquake show the significant damage the structure sustained.


Punta Ventana on January 27, 2019 (top), before it fell, and after it fell on January 6, 2020 (bottom)

Photo by Edgar Gracia Portello via AP, top, and AP Photo by Jorge A Ramirez Portela, bottom

In addition to destroying Punta Ventana, Monday’s quake unleashed small landslides, caused power outages, and collapsed some homes on the southern coast of the U.S. territory. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The 5.8 magnitude quake struck at 6:32 a.m. just south of the island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was followed by a string of smaller quakes, including one that measured magnitude 5 at 10:51 a.m. local time.

Victor Huerfano, director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, told the Associated Press that the quakes are happening as the North American plate and the Caribbean plate “squeeze” Puerto Rico along three faults in the southwest region of the island. While more earthquakes and aftershocks are expected, officials expect them to taper off eventually.

Punta Ventana isn’t the only natural arch to collapse in recent years. In 2017, Malta’s Azure Window rock formation crumbled into the sea due to erosion.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.

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Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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