Six years after a family-of-five was buried alive by falling rocks on Albufeira’s Maria Luísa beach, the cliffs have once again given way – dropping tons of rubble onto the sands.
The miracle this time is that no one was killed.
The rockfall took place in the early hours of Thursday morning, before the sun was up.
“If this had happened during the day, we would certainly have had victims,” Portimão’s ports captain Santos Pereira has affirmed.
It is a chilling reminder of just how unsafe many of the Algarve’s overhanging coastal cliffs continue to be.
Last year, controlled demolitions went ahead on a number of beaches – Maria Luísa’s included – but clearly they were not enough.
According to APA, the Algarve’s environmental agency, 75 beaches are still at risk from falling rocks and are duly signposted, warning beachgoers of the dangers.
The problem is that many ignore signposts and continue to set up camp in the shade or apparent protection from the wind of overhanging cliffs.
APA warns that areas at risk should be taken as “one and a half times the height of the cliffs” – which in many cases mean beaches themselves are in danger.
Certainly, the extent of rubble that fell on Thursday covered a huge section of sand and from the photographs looks every bit as wide as the overhanging cliff is high.
Maritime police closed off the area yesterday as APA officials “evaluated the situation”.
The fall destroyed an area of boardwalk and a “small viewpoint” that APA had established for holidaymakers who “like to appreciate the view”, writes Correio da Manhã.
The underlying message here is, keep away from viewpoints at the top of cliffs and take note of all warning signs when you go to the beach. They are there to save lives.
It was on August 21, 2009 that five people in the same family were killed, and three others seriously injured, when a cliffside gave way above Maria Luísa beach, tumbling down onto beachgoers at 11.25 in the morning.
Had this latest fall taken place at the same time, the pretty beach would once again have made headline news all over Europe.