- Morocco rocked by a devastating earthquake, leaving hundreds dead and injured.
Marrakech, Morocco – September 8, 2023– A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck Morocco on Friday night, causing widespread destruction and claiming the lives of over 630 people. The country’s interior ministry released an updated toll on Saturday, reporting 632 fatalities and 239 people injured. Among the injured, 51 individuals were in critical condition, according to the ministry.
The earthquake’s impact was particularly severe in mountainous areas, where reaching affected individuals proved to be a daunting challenge. Montasir Itri, a resident of the mountain village of Asni near the epicenter, described the situation, saying, “Our neighbors are under the rubble, and people are working tirelessly to rescue them using available resources in the village.”
The epicenter of the earthquake was located approximately 72 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of Marrakech and 56 kilometers west of the Atlas Mountain town of Oukaimeden. The quake occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.5 miles) just after 11 pm local time. It had a significant impact on Marrakech, where several buildings, including a UNESCO World Heritage site, collapsed in the old city.
The earthquake disrupted internet connectivity in Marrakesh due to regional power outages, according to the global internet monitoring organization NetBlocks.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) issued a statement highlighting the vulnerability of structures in the affected region to earthquake shaking, further emphasizing the impact of the disaster.
Residents in Marrakech and neighboring areas described the terrifying moments when the earthquake struck. Abdelhak El Amrani, a 33-year-old in Marrakesh, shared, “We felt a very violent tremor, and I realized it was an earthquake. I could see buildings moving. We don’t necessarily have the reflexes for this type of situation.”
In addition to Marrakech, coastal cities like Rabat, Casablanca, and Essaouira also felt the tremors. Residents reported scenes of panic, with people gathering in public spaces and cafes, choosing to sleep outside due to fears of aftershocks.
The earthquake’s aftermath saw a massive influx of injured individuals to hospitals in Marrakesh. Authorities have been working tirelessly to mobilize resources and provide assistance to the affected areas. The regional blood transfusion center in Marrakesh has urged residents to donate blood to help those injured in the disaster.
The earthquake also had ripple effects beyond Morocco, with neighboring Algeria experiencing tremors. Thankfully, the Algerian Civil Defence reported that the earthquake did not cause any damage or casualties in their country.
This earthquake, reported as the most powerful to hit Morocco to date by Moroccan media, serves as a stark reminder of the seismic activity in the region. In 2004, a devastating earthquake in Al Hoceima claimed the lives of at least 628 people and left 926 injured. Additionally, the 1980 El Asnam earthquake in neighboring Algeria, with a magnitude of 7.3, resulted in significant destruction, claiming 2,500 lives and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
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The USGS’s PAGER system has issued an orange alert for economic losses, suggesting that significant damage is likely, which may require a regional or national-level response. As Morocco and its people come to terms with the aftermath of this tragedy, international support and solidarity are essential in helping the country recover and rebuild.