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Collapse at French cliffs scaled by US troops on D-Day

Part of the Pointe du Hoc cliffs -- site of a daring vertical assault by US Army Rangers on D-Day in 1944 -- has collapsed on France's northern coast. ©AFP

Cricqueville-en-Bessin (France) (AFP) - A large section of the Pointe du Hoc cliffs has collapsed on France's northern coast, damaging the site of a daring vertical assault by US Army Rangers on D-Day in 1944.

"Part of the outcrop overlooking the English Channel collapsed" on Friday, the American Battle Monuments Commission, which has cared for the site since 1956, said in a statement.

"No one was injured in the landslide, which fell into the sea, and there is no risk for visitors," it added.

An AFP photographer saw around 100 tourists present on a sunny day at the site in Normandy in northern France. 

A force of 225 rangers scaled the cliffs on June 6, 1944 to destroy German artillery emplacements that threatened the Allied amphibious landings.

Ascending the 25-metre (82-foot) cliff face in foul weather and under German fire, just 90 of the attackers escaped unharmed.

"The base of the cliffs has become increasingly fragile over time," said Scott Desjardins, superintendent of Normandy American cemetery and the Pointe du Hoc.

"We continue to study the situation in order to find ways to mitigate the risk and preserve the site," he added. 

Normandy conservation official Regis Leymarie said that collapses had been expected at the site as "these cliffs have been eroding since they were created".

"About 12 years ago, we agreed with the Americans and the French state that reinforcing the foot of the cliff should aim to slow the erosion but never to stop it," he added, saying that already by then "the site was no longer as it was in 1944".

Around 500,000 people each year visit the Pointe du Hoc, one of the most famous sites of World War II's massive D-Day landings. 

The arrivals were the first step to freeing France and western Europe from Nazi German occupation.

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Dive Deeper:
D-Day Fighter Who Was In Normandy Landings Passes Away 2 Days Before 98th Birthday
Frank Gibbins was the last surviving member of Canterbury's Normandy Veterans’ Association.
Iodine pills and bunkers: Is France ready for nuclear war?
Like many European countries, France has seen an uptick in people seeking out iodine tablets and looking into bomb shelters…
Blas on target as Nantes beat Nice to claim Coupe de France
Nantes lifted the Coupe de France for the fourth time after a gritty 1-0 win over Nice on Saturday night…
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Dijon (France) (AFP) - Devotees of French food and wine can flock to a new temple following the opening Friday…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
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Below, you will find descriptions of four national parks that are located along the Mediterranean coast that combine historical visits…
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