- Deadly Earthquake Strikes Central Morocco
- Extent of Damage and Rescue Efforts
- International Support and Solidarity for Morocco
A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 has struck the central region of Morocco, killing more than a thousand people and causing extensive damage to several regions.
On Friday at 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT), residents raced into the streets after the earthquake.
Several regions of the country, from Casablanca to Marrakesh, where numerous buildings were destroyed or significantly damaged, experienced “violent” earthquakes.
The country’s regal palace has declared three days of national mourning.
The military would also send rescue crews with water, food, tents, and comforters.
Numerous victims are believed to be in inaccessible mountainous regions.
The epicenter was 71 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, in the High Atlas Mountains.
It is believed that many individuals are still buried beneath the rubble, and rescue efforts are underway. Multiple bodies have already been located.
Hospitals in Marrakesh have received an influx of injured patients, prompting authorities to request blood donations from locals.
The interior ministry of Morocco reported that the earthquake murdered people in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant, and injured more than 1,200.
Some structures have collapsed in Marrakesh, and the destruction is particularly severe in the Medina, a Unesco World Heritage site.
The minaret of the historic Kutubiyya mosque, a major tourist attraction near the old city’s main square, was surrounded by dust, while the historic Jemaa el Fnaa mosque partially collapsed.
Rashid Ben Arabi, a resident of Marrakesh, raced to his car minutes after the earthquake struck the city last night.
He rushed his wife and one-year-old daughter to Amizmiz, 56 km (35 km) from Marrakesh, to check on his parents.
He reported that the roadways were clogged with people fleeing the city in total darkness and a power outage.
“As soon as I entered my hometown, I saw people in a hysterical state, crying and screaming, and everyone was looking for their families,” he stated.
“I saw a man lying on the ground by the debris of his home; he could hear the screams of his two children, who were trapped beneath the debris, but he couldn’t do anything to help them because rescue teams had not yet arrived on the scene.”
Rashid eventually located his parents, who were sleeping in the street while draped in blankets.
Many others spent the night outdoors as the Moroccan government warned against returning home in case of significant aftershocks.
Aftershocks of magnitude 4.9 were detected 19 minutes after the earthquake.
In contrast, the extent of the devastation in mountain villages is unknown but is believed to be extensive.
The earthquake’s epicenter in a remote region of the High Atlas Mountains was comparatively shallow, and tremors were also felt in Rabat, 350 kilometers away, as well as in Casablanca and Essaouira.
Remote mountain villages near the epicentre may have lost simple structures, and casualties may take time to determine.
The earthquake was also felt in Algeria, but no damage or casualties were reported, according to officials.
Algeria said it was ready to open its airspace for humanitarian and medical aircraft to Morocco, even though it severed ties with its neighbor in 2021 in a move that included suspending direct flights in both directions.
Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky of the United States and Ukraine, respectively, expressed their solidarity, while Vladimir Putin stated that Russia shared “the pain and mourning of the friendly Moroccan people.”