A terrifying earthquake shook Morocco late Friday, killing more than 600 people, according to figures presented by the interior ministry, and sending horrified residents leaving their homes in the middle of the night.
The earthquake that struck 72 kilometres (45 miles) southwest of tourist spot Marrakesh at 11.11 pm was of 6.8 magnitude, as per US Geological Survey reports. The coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca, and Essaouira also felt strong tremors.
Earthquake Kills Over 600 People In Morocco
Speaking to the AFP over the phone, Abdelhak El Amrani, a 33-year-old Marrakesh, said that they felt a very violent tremor and realised it was an earthquake. He explained that he could see the building moving. He had then gone outside and saw a lot of people in shock and panic. Children were crying and people were distraught, he said, adding that they don’t necessarily have the reflexes for this type of situation. The power and phone network went out for 10 minutes before coming back on.
The interior ministry figure updated on Saturday revealed that the monstrous earthquake had killed 632 people, more than half of them in Al-Haouz and Taroudant provinces. Deaths were recorded in Ouarzazate, Chichaoua, Azilal, and Youssoufia provinces, Marrakesh, Agadir, and the Casablanca area. Reports stated that 329 people were injured, of whom 51 were in critical condition.
Faisal Baddour, an engineer, shared that he felt the earthquake three times in his building. He said the people went out into the streets in total panic and noted that families were still sleeping outside because of the fear of the force of this earthquake.
Michael Bizet, 43, who owns three traditional riad houses in Marrakesh’s old town, told me that he was in bed when the earthquake struck. He had thought that the bed was going to fly away. He had gone to the streets half-naked to check on his raids. He called it total chaos, a real catastrophe, and madness. He also shared videos of piles of rubble from collapsed walls on the street.
Houda Outassaf, a local resident, said that he had lost at least 10 of his family members in less than two days.
Social media is filled with footage of a minaret that collapsed on Jemma el-Fna Square in the historic city. An AFP correspondent saw hundreds of people flocking to the streets to spend the night after they felt the shockwaves. While some slept with blankets, others just slept on the ground.
The interior ministry said that it has mobilised all the necessary resources to intervene and help the affected areas. The regional blood transfusion centre has called on residents to donate blood to the injured.
According to a local media report, a family was trapped in the rubble after the house collapsed in the town of Al-Haouz, near the epicentre of the earthquake.
The USGS PAGER system, which provides preliminary assessments on the impact of earthquakes, issued a red alert for economic losses and stated that extensive damage is likely and the disaster is likely widespread. Internet connectivity has also been disrupted in Marrakesh due to power cuts.
The media reported it to be the most powerful earthquake to hit the country to date. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz offered condolences, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "pained" on hearing the news.
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