Heavy storms have caused Malta’s iconic Azure Window rock arch to collapse into the sea.

The popular limestone arch on the island of Gozo was featured on the first episode of the HBO series Game of Thrones and in several films.

The Azure Window was one of Malta’s most famous landmarks.

Tourists have been filmed jumping off the arch into the sea, dislodging clumps of rock in the process.

But officials recently introduced signs and a fine to stop people from walking across the landmark but they were often ignored.

Prime minister Joseph Muscat said the news was “heartbreaking”.

A study in 2013 said that while erosion was inevitable, the structure was not in imminent danger of collapsing, the Times of Malta reported.

Muscat tweeted: “Reports commissioned over the years indicated that this landmark would be hard hit by unavoidable natural corrosion. That sad day arrived.”

Strong gale force winds hit Malta on Tuesday, leading the Gozo channel ferry company to suspend its services, according to the local newspaper.