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Large chunk of Brighton's West Pier falls victim to the sea
Updated 1:47pm Wednesday 5th February 2014 in News
WITH VIDEO: A large chunk of Brighton's West Pier has fallen into the sea - and the trust which owns it says more collapses could follow.
The iconic structure, gutted by a fire in 2003, has slowy been losing parts of its metal skeleton ever since.
But the latest chunk to go could spell the end for the structure as the sea bids to claim it.
Argus photographer Simon Dack has just returned from Brighton beach. He said people were almost in tears looking at the ravaged hulk.
Rachel Clark, chief executive of the West Pier Trust, which owns it, said this "significant" collapse could trigger others.
She said: "I have only been able to see the photos - I am heading down there later today.
"There have been a few collapses already in the past few weeks due to the stormy weather but they might not have been seen by people unless they were familiar with the structure.
"Obviously this one is more noticeable and it is a great shame.
"It is an unmaintained ruin so this was always likely to happen and the extremely high winds have taken their toll.
"It is very, very sad.
"The more collapses that happen, the weaker the structure becomes and so more collapses become likely.
"Our engineers can only stand and observe."
Questions are already being asked about how this will affect Paddle Round the Pier later this year, the i360 development - and the future of the West Pier itself.
Opened in 1866 after being designed and engineered by Eugenius Birch, the West Pier was closed in 1975 and has been deteriorating since.
In 2002, a huge storm resulted in the dramatic collapse of the south-east corner of the Concert Hall and a year later arsonists struck.
Despite the massive damage, plans to revive it were set out, but funding for the project was withdrawn by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The West Pier Trust said that with the withdrawal of lottery funding, the pier would never again be restored to its prime.
The collapsed Concert Hall, which was close to the beach, was removed in 2010 after it was deemed a public hazard.
The skeletal remains of the pier have made it a public attraction, but trust officials concede that it will eventually fall into the sea.
Click on the YouTube video below to see a timelapse of the 2003 fire.
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