A fire-hit hotel in the process of being demolished has collapsed onto a Seaham street prompting an evacuation of nearby shops and cafes.
The Harbour View Hotel was the subject of a huge fire in September last year and work was under way to demolish the building.
However, on Saturday morning, onlookers watched in horror as the entire front of the building collapsed onto the pavement.
A witness at the scene told the Echo people were sitting either side having coffees and refreshments when rubble started raining onto the footpath on the sea front.
"They are pulling it down but the front has just collapsed onto the path," he said.
Echo photographer Kevin Brady, who took some of the images above, spoke to a fireman on the scene, who told him there were not believed to be any injuries.
He said: "I don't think they were working on it today. The team that normally do the work are believed to be off for the bank holiday weekend.
"They have closed shops on either side and the two cafes look closed too.
"I have just spoken to the fireman on scene and nobody is thought to be underneath."
Crews from Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service were called to the scene at 10.50am today.
A spokesman has confirmed that firefighters attended following a call from a member of the public and made the building safe.
The police were alerted to the incident, and it was passed over to a private demolition company and the local authority.
North Terrace is closed to traffic, with Durham County Council officials and demolition experts present.
Shaun Sparks also saw the incident happen.
Speaking to the Echo, he said: “Was out on a Saturday morning jaunt on my road bike. It literally happened just before I rode past.
“Got covered in dust off the collapse. Apparently there was a couple that were just on the pavement as it happened. They were luckier.”