A Bighi peninsula boundary wall beneath what is now Heritage Malta’s headquarters collapsed in stormy weather on Thursday, prompting an emergency safety assessment by the state conservation agency.
Photos show how a significant part of a historic wall crumbled into the Kalkara sea, leaving an exposed façade of soil with the historic naval hospital towering above it.
The complex, which served as a major medical centre in the 19th and 20th centuries, now serves as the headquarters of the state's cultural and conservation agency Heritage Malta.
A Heritage Malta spokesperson said that architects and safety officers were busy assessing the damage on Friday morning and that workers housed in the part of the building close to the collapse would not be allowed back to the site until the area was declared safe.
For a local heritage NGO, however, it is all too little, too late.
Assoċjazzjoni Wirt il-Kalkara said that it had spent the past four years warning various ministers about the dilapidated state of the building and its surrounding walls, to no avail.
All its warnings had fallen on deaf ears, it said, despite that part of Rinella Bay having been acknowledged as unsound and in dire need of restoration.
The storm wreaked further damage to another historic building in the vicinity: Villa Portelli.
A boundary wall surrounding the abandoned villa collapsed as a result of the weather, damaging a parked car in the process.
Assoċjazzjoni Wirt il-Kalkara said that it had also warned about the state of this building, only for ministers to ignore “and sometimes reject” their calls.
“We urge the competent authorities to this time pay attention to our warnings, to ensure everyone’s safety. We also urge the public to take all the necessary precautions when in the area,” it said.
Historic buildings were among the biggest victims of Thursday’s Storm Helios. Apart from the structures in Kalkara, damage was also reported to an iconic 17th-century watchtower in Għajn Tuffieħa as well as to walls leading to the Ċittadella ditch in Gozo.