Earthquake Strikes Morocco
In the historic city of Marrakech, Morocco, on Friday night, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck, resulting in the tragic loss of approximately 1000 lives and damage to buildings. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), it was the most severe earthquake to hit this region of North Africa in over a century.
The earthquake occurred in the High Atlas mountain range of Morocco after 11 p.m. local time. USGS reported that the epicenter was located approximately 72 kilometers (44.7 miles) south of Marrakech, a city of around 840,000 people and a popular tourist destination, at a relatively shallow depth of about 18.5 kilometers (11.4 miles).
Earthquake 1000 people lost
Morocco’s Ministry of Interior announced during the week that at least 1000 people lost their lives, and 1200 others were injured.
In the aftermath of the quake, many Moroccan residents spent the night on the streets out of fear of aftershocks, as a challenging mission to search for trapped individuals continued. Health authorities also appealed for blood donations to aid the injured.
Authorities reported that most of the casualties occurred in mountainous regions, where reaching affected areas was difficult. Rescue teams faced challenges in reaching the most affected areas after road damage, as reported by state television.
The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces warned residents to remain vigilant due to the risk of aftershocks. “We urge you to take precautions and safety measures due to the threat of aftershocks,” the military stated.
USGS noted that the earthquake on Friday night was unusually intense for this region. They stated, “Earthquakes of this size are unusual in the region but not unexpected. Since 1900, there has been no earthquake of magnitude 6 or greater within 500 kilometers, and only nine earthquakes of magnitude 5 or greater.”
The U.S. agency has also predicted that “significant damage is possible, and the destruction is potentially widespread,” emphasizing that many people in the area live in structures vulnerable to earthquake shocks.
Local television reported that near the epicenter of the earthquake, numerous buildings collapsed. The National Institute of Geophysics of Morocco issued warnings after the initial quake, causing thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
A local resident from Montasser Eitri reported to Reuters that most houses in the nearby mountain villages were severely damaged. He mentioned that neighbors were working hard to rescue those trapped, using whatever means available.
In addition to Taroudant, tremors from the earthquake were felt in other parts of Morocco. A resident described how he fled his home in panic after the initial earthquake, saying, “The ground shook for almost 20 seconds. When I descended from the upper floor, the doors opened by themselves and then closed.”
Local resident Iddi Waziz Hassan informed Reuters that in the old city of Marrakech, which is part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage, some buildings were damaged, and people were waiting to move their belongings out.
Another Marrakech resident, Brahim Hemi, reported to Reuters that he saw ambulances leaving the old city, and several parts of buildings had been damaged. He mentioned that people were frightened and staying outside in case another earthquake occurred.
Marrakech, a former imperial city with a history dating back almost a thousand years, is filled with medieval neighborhoods, mosques, gardens, and bustling markets. Its old city center is enclosed by red earth walls and filled with buildings made of red clay bricks, earning it the nickname “Red City.”
According to Al Aoula TV, the walls were first constructed in the early 12th century, and some of them suffered damage from the earthquake.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marrakech attracted nearly 30 million tourists in 2019. Besides its rich culture and history, Marrakech is one of Morocco’s four major cities and an important economic center.
Reuters reported on eyewitness accounts of tremors being felt in the capital city of Rabat as well, which is located approximately 350 kilometers (217 miles) north in the High Atlas Mountains.
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