A powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.8 jolted Morocco, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Local media reports 820 casualties, while 627 people sustained injuries. Morocco’s state television Al Aoula; citing the Interior Ministry reported that there are 205 people in critical condition. Buildings collapsed, as the earth shook on Friday, September 8 11:11 pm (2211 GMT). The quake hit 44 miles (71 kilometers) southwest of Marrakesh at a depth of 18.5 kilometers. The full extent of damage is yet to be determined. Powerful tremors resulted in an immediate power cut and telephone system was disrupted but the services were restored in few minutes. The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers dig through the rubble.
The interior ministry of Morocco released and update today, September 9, 2023 stating that the quake killed 632 people, more than half of the casualties were reported in Al-Haouz and Taroudant provinces. Further, stating the ministry confirmed deaths in Ouarzazate, Chichaoua, Azilal and Youssoufia provinces, as well as in Marrakesh, Agadir, and the Casablanca area.
After the earthquake, hundreds of people flocked outside under open sky fearing possible aftershocks. They spent the night under open sky with blankets while others slept on the ground. The interior ministry stated that the authorities have “mobilised all the necessary resources to intervene and help the affected areas”.
Majority of the fatalities are said to be in the hard-to-reach areas south of Marrakech. Efforts are underway to clear roads so ambulances and aid can reach the far flung affected areas. Due to greater distances between the mountainous villages will make immidiate help and rescue efforts difficult. Local media reported that roads leading to the mountain region were jammed with vehicles and collapsed rocks making the rescue efforts slow.
Aftershocks have been reported; leaving residents including men, women and children staying out in the streets, frightened of further tremors. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake was at a relatively shallow depth of 11.5 miles (18km). This is one of strongest earthquakes which struck Morocco in years. Earthquake was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria.
The United Nations has said it is ready to extend help, while other countries including Israel and France have said they are chalking out plans to provide assistance to Morocco.