In a devastating turn of events, central Morocco was shaken to its core as a powerful earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck the region, causing immense destruction and loss of life.
The epicenter of the quake was located in the High Atlas Mountains, approximately 44 miles southwest of Marrakesh, at a depth of 18.5 kilometers. This natural disaster occurred at 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT) on a fateful Friday night, leaving a trail of destruction and heartbreak in its wake.
The consequences of this disaster have been profound, with the death toll rising to at least 632 people, as reported by the country’s interior ministry.
The Impact of the Earthquake
The earthquake had a far-reaching impact, causing devastation not only in Marrakesh but also in several areas to the south of the epicenter. The interior ministry has confirmed casualties in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant. Additionally, at least 329 individuals have been reported injured, with many of them in remote areas where access to medical assistance is challenging.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the Moroccan government issued warnings advising people not to return to their homes due to the risk of severe aftershocks. As a result, numerous individuals spent the night outdoors, seeking safety in the open. Hospitals in Marrakesh experienced a surge in injured patients, prompting authorities to urge residents to donate blood to meet the urgent medical needs.
The Human Tragedy Unfolds
Tragically, there have been reports of families trapped beneath the rubble of their homes in Marrakesh, particularly in parts of the historic Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Videos shared on various platforms showed buildings collapsing, reflecting the sheer power of the earthquake. Furthermore, the minaret of the iconic Kutubiyya mosque, a popular tourist attraction in Marrakesh, was enveloped in dust, signifying the extent of the tremors felt in the city.
Eyewitness accounts paint a harrowing picture of the disaster. Abdelhak El Amrani, a local resident, described the experience as a “violent tremor” that left people in shock and panic. Power and phone lines were disrupted for a tense ten minutes, adding to the chaos and uncertainty that engulfed the city. Another resident, Fayssal Badour, who was driving when the earthquake struck, shared the heart-wrenching scene of screaming and crying that pervaded the streets.
Impact Beyond Borders
The earthquake’s impact extended beyond Morocco’s borders. Tremors were reportedly felt in the capital, Rabat, approximately 350 kilometers away, as well as in Casablanca and Essaouira. Remote mountain villages near the epicenter, characterized by simple buildings, faced the risk of severe damage. Due to their isolation, it may take some time to assess the extent of casualties in these areas.
Neighboring Algeria also felt the tremors, though officials have confirmed that the earthquake did not result in any significant damage or casualties in their country.
The international community has rallied in support of Morocco during this challenging time. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at the G20 summit in Delhi, pledged assistance from the global community to aid Morocco’s recovery efforts. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez expressed solidarity and support for the Moroccan people, while French President Emmanuel Macron offered assistance, emphasizing his devastation at the news.