Hundreds Dead After Earthquake Strikes Near Marrakech, Morocco

Morocco Earthquake Damage

The old city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, suffered significant damage. Credit: X/NextIndiaTimes

A powerful earthquake, registering a magnitude of 6.8, struck the High Atlas mountains in Morocco late on Friday, September 8, resulting in a toll of at least 693 lives lost, along with extensive destruction of buildings.

The tremor sent shockwaves through major cities, causing residents to flee their homes in fear.

The preliminary death toll was reported by Morocco’s Interior Ministry, which also confirmed that 153 individuals sustained injuries. Reuters reported that the majority of fatalities occurred in remote mountainous areas, which posed significant challenges for rescue efforts.

Marrakech, the closest major city to the earthquake’s epicentre, suffered significant damage, particularly in the old city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Local residents reported the collapse of some buildings, and televised reports depicted the aftermath, including a mosque reduced to rubble, burying cars beneath it.

The Interior Ministry issued a plea for calm while announcing the death toll on television. The earthquake struck multiple provinces, including Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant.

Morocco’s geophysical centre initially reported the earthquake at a magnitude of 7.2, while the U.S. Geological Survey measured it at 6.8.

The seismic event occurred relatively close to the surface, at a depth of 18.5 kilometres (11.5 miles).

The quake’s epicentre was located in the Ighil area of the High Atlas, situated approximately 70 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of Marrakech. The earthquake struck just after 11 pm local time (10 pm GMT).

This earthquake stands as the deadliest in Morocco since 2004 when a tremor near Al Hoceima in the northern Rif mountains claimed the lives of over 600 people.

In Marrakech, residents faced the grim task of searching for survivors and clearing debris from collapsed structures in the densely packed old city.

Earthquake damaged car
Morocco is on alert for aftershocks. Credit: X/Sapna Sewani

They worked tirelessly by hand, awaiting heavy equipment to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts. Footage revealed significant damage to the mediaeval city wall, with cracks and fallen sections blocking the streets.

Further north, in Casablanca, approximately 250 kilometres from Ighil, residents who spent the night in the streets were too fearful to return to their homes, apprehensive of further tremors and aftershocks.

The earthquake’s impact has left a profound and devastating mark on the affected communities, triggering urgent response efforts to provide relief and assistance to those affected by this tragic event.

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Written by

Jo Pugh

Jo Pugh is a journalist based in the Costa Blanca North. Originally from London, she has been involved in journalism and photography for 20 years. She has lived in Spain for 12 years, and is a dedicated and passionate writer.