Powerful Earthquake Strikes Morocco, Resulting in Devastation and Loss of Life


Rabat – Late Friday night, a rare and potent earthquake rocked Morocco, causing widespread destruction and claiming the lives of hundreds of people. The seismic event affected areas ranging from villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakech.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, people took to the streets, choosing to remain outside due to the fear of subsequent aftershocks. Morocco’s Interior Ministry reported early Saturday that the quake had resulted in a tragic death toll of at least 296 individuals in the provinces near the epicenter. Additionally, 153 injured individuals were transported to hospitals for urgent medical care. The ministry noted that the majority of the damage occurred in rural areas rather than within cities and towns.

Disturbing videos posted by Moroccans showcased buildings reduced to rubble and clouds of dust. Parts of the renowned red walls surrounding Marrakech’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, suffered damage. Tourists and locals shared videos capturing scenes of panic as people evacuated restaurants while throbbing club music played in the background.

The head of a town near the earthquake’s epicenter revealed that several homes in nearby towns had either partially or completely collapsed. Furthermore, the region experienced disruptions in electricity and road connectivity. Abderrahim Ait Daoud, the head of the town of Talat N’Yaaqoub, explained that authorities were diligently working to clear roads in Al Haouz Province to facilitate the passage of ambulances and aid to affected populations. However, due to the vast distances between mountain villages, it will take time to fully assess the extent of the damage.

Local media reports indicated that roads leading to the mountainous region surrounding the epicenter were congested with vehicles and blocked by collapsed rocks, impeding swift rescue efforts.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake initially registered a magnitude of 6.8 when it struck at 11:11 p.m. (2211 GMT), with the tremors lasting several seconds. The US agency reported a magnitude-4.9 aftershock occurring 19 minutes later.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province, approximately 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) south of Marrakech. The USGS stated that the epicenter was situated 18 kilometers (11 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface, while Morocco’s seismic agency estimated it to be 8 kilometers (5 miles) deep. In either case, shallow earthquakes of this nature tend to be more hazardous.

North Africa is not frequently subjected to earthquakes. Lahcen Mhanni, the Head of the Seismic Monitoring and Warning Department at the National Institute of Geophysics, confirmed to 2M TV that this earthquake was the most powerful ever recorded in the mountainous region. The last significant earthquake in Morocco occurred in 2004, when a 6.4 magnitude quake struck near the coastal city of Al Hoceima, resulting in more than 600 fatalities.

Reports indicate that the effects of the earthquake were felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria, according to the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria’s Civil Defense agency, which oversees emergency response. The widespread impact of the quake underscores the urgent need for rescue operations and support for affected communities in Morocco.

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