Devastating 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Central Morocco, Claiming 632 Lives
High Atlas Mountains Epicenter Wreaks Havoc, Unleashes Aftershocks
A powerful earthquake, registering a magnitude of 6.8, has rocked central Morocco, resulting in a tragic loss of at least 632 lives, according to statements from the country’s interior ministry.
The seismic epicenter was pinpointed in the High Atlas Mountains, situated 71 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, at a depth of 18.5 kilometers, as reported by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The earthquake struck with devastating force at precisely 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT), leaving destruction in its wake. A 4.9 magnitude aftershock rumbled through the region a mere 19 minutes later, further compounding the disaster.
Reports confirm casualties both within Marrakesh and its southern environs, as outlined by the ministry. The earthquake’s deadly impact extended to the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant, with a minimum of 329 individuals sustaining injuries.
Unverified video clips circulating on social media vividly depict the chaos and devastation, with damaged structures, trembling buildings, and debris-strewn streets. Panicked individuals can be seen fleeing for safety, while others navigate through clouds of dust.
In Marrakesh’s historic district, eyewitnesses recount the harrowing sight of collapsed buildings. Although several clips depict structures crumbling, their exact locations remain unconfirmed by the BBC.
Fearing powerful aftershocks, residents in affected areas have opted to remain outdoors, seeking refuge from potential further tremors.
One local resident described the ordeal as a “violent tremor” that caused “buildings to sway.” Abdelhak El Amrani, recounting the traumatic scene, noted that “people were all in shock and panic. The children were crying, and the parents were distraught.” He further mentioned that power and phone lines were disrupted for a tense 10-minute period.
AFP reported a heart-wrenching incident involving a trapped family in the rubble of a collapsed house, with several Marrakesh residents requiring hospitalization.
The earthquake’s epicenter, nestled within the remote High Atlas Mountains, raised concerns for the survival of modest structures in nearby mountain villages. Due to their isolation, it may take some time to ascertain the full extent of casualties in these areas. Additionally, tremors were reportedly felt in the capital city of Rabat, situated 350 kilometers away, as well as in Casablanca and Essaouira.
The aftermath of this catastrophe continues to unfold, with rescue and relief efforts underway to provide assistance to those affected by this tragic natural disaster.