One moment, tourists were sunning themselves in the sand of Shipwreck Beach, or taking in the massive rock formation while bobbing in the remote cove in western Greece.
Then there was an “almighty cracking sound,” in the words of one vacationer, as a section of limestone broke off from the cliffside. The ensuing landslide rained rocks on terrified tourists and caused a large wave that capsized small boats in what is usually a peaceful cove.
In all, seven people were injured in the hail of rocks, including a 34-year-old woman from the Czech Republic who suffered a fractured vertebra, according to the Associated Press. Two of her children and her husband were also treated for minor injuries.
The rock face apparently came down in three sections, collapsing in a mound in the cove that is only accessible by boat.
Lynette Bridges, a 58-year-old vacationer from Essex County, England, told the Evening Standard her boat had just pulled up to the beach when “we started to hear this almighty cracking sound and the first lot came down quickly followed by the second lot.”
“The noise and the sound and the amount of rock that came down was unbelievable,” she added.
Video from the scene showed tourists scurrying to escape the falling rock, then trying to check on briefly trapped loved ones or chasing after overturned boats.
Josh O’Connell, a 21-year-old Irish man who works for a tour company, told the newspaper there were more than 400 people in the area and more than a dozen tourist boats.
“The rock that fell, oh gosh, it would be like a four-story building falling onto the beach,” O’Connell said.
Fire department rescue crews scrambled to the beach in boats, bringing a sniffer dog to try to detect anyone who might have been trapped beneath the rubble.
A short time later, authorities told the AP, everyone who had arrived at the beach on tourist boats had been accounted for. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
For decades, Shipwreck Beach was best known for the crash of the MV Panagiotis, a ship that ran aground off the picturesque coast of Zakynthos in the fall of 1980.
Zakynthos is also featured in the South Korean drama “Descendants of the Sun,” which prompted savvy travel companies to start tours to the remote island, according to the Korea Bizwire.
On Thursday, authorities cordoned off the beach as they worked to determine whether there was any more danger from falling rock.