Work is under way to repair two large “cave-like” holes under Larne promenade, amid fears that the popular path could collapse.
Local people say that the two deep holes, each measuring around two metres wide, had been there for two weeks and that young children have been daring each other to enter them.
On Friday, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council erected fencing around the walkway above the holes.
However, the deep holes were still accessible via steps until steel mesh was bolted over the entrances by the council on Saturday.
Repairs began on the path on Tuesday, when a digger and council workmen moved in to start work at the site.
Mum-of-two Carrie-Anne Hill told the Larne Times that she recently had to warn other children to stop entering the holes for fear of collapse.
“There were kids inside it and I told them to get out but they didn’t,” she said.
“It was very dangerous because of the collapse risk and I think that it was in a bad enough condition to collapse on top of them.
“This route is very popular with families and kids, and I would have thought there would be more action to repair this sooner, as it has been like that for two weeks.”
Cathy Sittlington, who was walking along the promenade with her son and dog last Friday, agreed.
“It’s not good to see the promenade in this state. I noticed holes in the side of it before, but they weren’t as big as that,” she said.
“I would be worried about the safety aspect, it seems that the stones underneath the promenade were being washed away.
“There’s no telling how far under the structure the holes stretch. I would have been afraid for the safety of kids or animals.”
A man, who said he had reported the situation to a local councillor, added: “I first noticed the holes two months ago and it has got worse. One hole opened up a fortnight ago and the other last week.”
A council spokesperson said that the damage was “part of ongoing erosion at the sea defence wall”.
“The top surface has only broken in the last few weeks over a 20-metre section,” he said.
“A structural engineer has already examined the damage and has confirmed there is no immediate danger to the promenade.
“We have appointed a consultant engineer to look at both the very urgent and the long-term works regarding the promenade.”
The spokesperson revealed that repair work had “progressed very well” on Tuesday.
“The pathway remains open, with a passage clear for pedestrians,” he added. “That will continue to be the case as the work progresses.
“The area will be condoned off with appropriate barriers on the land side to ensure public safety overnight.”