A powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake has struck Central Morocco, leaving a trail of destruction that has killed more than 2,000 people. The epicenter of this seismic event was in the remote High Atlas Mountains, approximately forty-four miles southwest of Marrakesh.
The tremor occurred at 11:11 pm local time (10:11 GMT) and was followed by a 4.9 magnitude aftershock just 19 minutes later, further exacerbating the already dire situation, BBC reports.
Casualties and Destruction of the Night Earthquake
The earthquake’s impact has been profoundly tragic. The reported casualties number in the hundreds, with expectations of further increases in both fatalities and injuries. According to the latest data, more than 2,000 people have died, thousands were injured, and about 1,404 remain in critical condition. Most of the casualties occurred in Marrakesh and surrounding areas, where residential and religious buildings crumbled.
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The tremors were felt far beyond the epicenter and affected the capital, Rabat, which is approximately 217 miles away, as well as Casablanca and Essaouira. In the aftermath, many unverified photos and videos began appearing on Twitter depicting distressing scenes which unfolded as locals sought refuge outside due to fear of powerful aftershocks. Families gathered in streets, clutching children and essential belongings, as they sought safety in the open.
Videos shared online depicted panic and chaos near Marrakech’s iconic 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque, a revered symbol of the city. Reports emerged of damage to this historic structure, though the extent remained uncertain. The city’s famed red walls, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, also sustained damage, adding to the devastation.
Remote mountain villages near the epicenter faced significant challenges, as simple buildings may not have withstood the quake’s force. The region’s remoteness could prolong efforts to assess the extent of damage and casualties.
The moment a building completely collapsed following the earthquake that struck Morocco a short while ago. pic.twitter.com/9n22NfiC8F
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Rescue and relief efforts have been hampered, with roads leading into the affected areas clogged with vehicles and blocked by fallen rocks. Moroccan authorities are working diligently to clear these routes for ambulances and humanitarian aid.
Messages of condolences and offers of assistance poured in from around the world, demonstrating solidarity with Morocco. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and United Nations officials expressed their readiness to support the affected population.
Tremors Were Felt in Portugal and Algeria
As Morocco grapples with the aftermath of this catastrophic earthquake, it faces a task of recovery and rebuilding. The earthquake’s impact rippled beyond its borders, serving as a stark reminder of the unpredictability of natural disasters and the resilience required to overcome them.
The seismic tremors had such a far-reaching impact that their effects were sensed in distant regions, with reports indicating that the earthquake’s reach extended as far as Portugal and Algeria. This information was corroborated by both the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria’s Civil Defense unit, which plays a pivotal role in managing emergency responses, AP reports.