By ANNE CANALP
The arch stood in front of two sea caves which were home to monk seals, but was not under any official protection.
Karpaz Gate Marina harbourmaster Deniz Akaltan said: “We noticed that it had cracked some time ago and anticipated that it would follow the same fate as [a similar] one in Malta, as it was composed of a soft and porous sandstone. The whole coastline is littered with similar rocks which have eroded away.”
He added: “It would not be possible to break it with an excavator from land as there are no machines here that large and they would not have the reach. It is below the level of the land.”
Cyprus Turkish Biologists' Union head Niyazi Türkseven said his group would investigate to find out whether there had been foul play.
However, claims by Yenierenköy Municipality that the arch had collapsed due to high wind and waves were also backed by nearby landowner Turgay Öykün, who added: “The real problem is the illegal construction of a 24-room hotel nearby which has been halted.
“Countless lorryloads of rock have been dumped here for an unapproved harbour project about which I first complained to Parliament in December. The municipality did not take action but the construction has now been stopped and I believe that a fine was imposed.”
Environmental Protection Department head Abdullah Aktolgalı said: “This is a matter for the Ports Authority and the Antiquities Department to answer, as they give the permits.”
In May Mr Aktolgalı said a detailed report would be prepared by his department on the subject.
Antiquities Department head Fuat Azimli could not be contacted yesterday for comment.
The project by Özkom Ltd for the restoration of a historic carob warehouse was investigated by local MP Biray Hamzaoğulları in May, when he said he had been unable to ascertain whether an Environmental Impact Assessment report had been obtained but that construction had been halted.
Despite the submission of a written request for information, he had received no reply one month later but verbal inquiries had been answered by the municipality and İskele District Office, who merely verbally confirmed that permission had been granted.
Mr Hamzoğulları added: “This is a popular spot with villagers for fishing, picnics and swimming. The project was given for the restoration of the carob warehouse, not for construction.”
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