An iconic natural rock arch known as the “azure window” collapsed into the sea off Malta following a violent storm on Wednesday.
Located on Malta's Gozo Island, the rock formation was featured as a backdrop for scenes in HBO's Game of Thrones and was a hotspot for tourists.
Roger Chessell, a local, watched the arch collapse into the ocean, the Times of Malta reported.
"There was a big raging sea beneath the window,” Chessell told the Times of Malta. “Suddenly, the arch collapsed into the sea with a loud whoomph, throwing up a huge spray. By the time the spray had faded, the stack had gone too."
Environment Minister Jose Herrera said that no human-made intervention could have saved the structure, the Times of Malta reported.
According to the outlet, a 2013 geological study found that while erosion was inevitable, the natural structure was in no immediate danger of collapsing.
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted that the loss of the azure window was "heartbreaking" for Malta.
Reports commissioned over the years indicated that this landmark would be hard hit by unavoidable natural corrosion. That sad day arrived.— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) March 8, 2017
“Reports commissioned over the years indicated that this landmark would be hard hit by unavoidable natural corrosion,” Muscat said. “That sad day arrived.”
On social media, many lamented the loss of the iconic arch.
It is a very sad day for Malta. The iconic Azure Window collapsed this morning, succumbing to the forces of nature and the passage of time. pic.twitter.com/ovc8Yj9gWH— VisitMalta (@VisitMalta) March 8, 2017
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