632 killed as buildings damaged

A powerful earthquake measuring 6.8 has struck central Morocco, killing at least 632 people, the country’s interior ministry said.

The epicenter is in the High Atlas Mountains, 71km (44 miles) south-west of Marrakesh, at a depth of 18.5km, the US Geological Survey said.

The earthquake struck at 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT) on Friday. There was a 4.9 aftershock 19 minutes later.

People died in Marrakesh and several areas to the south, the ministry said.

Many of the victims are believed to be in remote areas.

The Ministry of Interior said that the earthquake killed people in the districts and regions of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant, adding that at least 329 people were injured.

Unverified video clips on social media showed damaged buildings, other buildings shaking and collapsed roads. They saw people running away in panic, and some walking in a cloud of dust.

There were also reports of families trapped under the ruins of their homes, and damage to parts of Medina Marrakesh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hospitals in the city have seen many injured people, and the authorities have called on the citizens to donate blood.

Some buildings in the old city have collapsed, a resident told Reuters news agency. Several clips on X show buildings being hit, but the BBC has not identified where they are.

Citizens are said to have decided to stay outside their homes in case the city is hit by strong storms.

Another man in the historic city described feeling a “violent tremor” and seeing “moving buildings”.

“Everyone is sad and panicked. Children are crying and parents are sad,” Abdelhak El Amrani told AFP.

He said phone lines were down for 10 minutes.

Damage to an ancient mosque in the historic city of Marrakesh, following a major earthquake in Morocco on September 9, 2023.

Damage to an old mosque in the historic city of Marrakesh

People sitting on the street in Casablanca at night, September 9 September 23

Frightened residents of Casablanca fled their homes and camped on the streets overnight

People seek shelter outside in Rabat after the earthquake

People seek shelter outside in Rabat after the earthquake

The epicenter of the earthquake in the remote area of ​​the High Atlas Mountains was shallow – and the earthquake was also reportedly felt in the capital Rabat, some 350 kilometers away, as well as Casablanca and Essaouira.

Simple houses in mountain villages near the epicenter may not be alive and, at a distance, it may take some time to determine the victims there.

Speaking at the G20 summit in Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the international community would come to Morocco’s aid.

German President Olaf Scholz, who attended the conference, called the earthquake “devastating” and said his thoughts were with the victims.



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