San Juan (AFP) - The renowned Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico collapsed on Tuesday, officials said, weeks after an announcement that the vast structure would be dismantled due to its decrepit and dangerous condition.
Two cables holding the instruments platform above the 1,000 feet (300 meter) diameter radio dish had snapped in recent months, and engineers had warned that it was on the brink of collapse.
"We can confirm the platform fell and that we have reports of no injuries. We will release additional details as they are confirmed," Rob Margetta, spokesman for the National Science Foundation, told AFP.
The telescope was one of the largest in the world and has been a tool for many astronomical discoveries, as well as being famous for its dramatic scale and setting.
An action scene from the James Bond film "GoldenEye" took place above the telescope, and in the film "Contact" an astronomer played by Jodie Foster used the observatory in her quest for alien signals.
Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, said the platform collapsed shortly before 8:00am (1200 GMT).
He described it as "a total disaster."
The telescope was in operation until August this year.