Morocco Earthquake: More Than 1,000 Dead


Sept 9, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

An earthquake struck central Morocco on Friday night, killing at least 1,036 people and leaving more than 1,200 injured, according to the country's interior ministry, with the death toll expected to rise.

The 6.8 magnitude quake struck southwest of Marrakesh around 11 p.m. local time on Friday at a relatively shallow depth of 44 miles. It sent people rushing into the streets in the tourism hub and other cities.

 Many of the dead were in hard-to-reach mountain areas, the BBC reported, as videos shared on social media show the earthquake's devastating aftermath.

Many victims are said to have been trapped under buildings, and there were images of people camping out in the open in Marrakesh to escape further tremors.

There are also reports that buildings had collapsed in the old city of Marrakesh, whose historic heart is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One unverified video showed the side of a building collapse as screams and shouting could be heard. Footage also showed people running through the narrow streets while sirens could be heard screeching.

"I could see buildings moving. We don't necessarily have the reflexes for this type of situation," Marrakesh resident Abdelhak El Amrani, told Agence France-Presse. "I went outside, and there were a lot of people there. People were all in shock and panic. The children were crying and the parents were distraught."

French citizen Michael Bizet told AFP, "I thought my bed was going to fly away. I went out into the street half-naked and immediately went to see my riads (traditional houses)," adding, "it was total chaos."

Morocco's geophysical centre said the quake struck in the Ighil area of the High Atlas (40 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, and the tremors could be felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria.

People in the Moroccan capital city, Rabat, 200 miles north of Marrakesh, and in the coastal town of Imsouane, 170 miles to its west, also fled their homes, fearing a stronger quake.

The U.S. Geological Survey's PAGER system issued a red alert for economic losses, which would typically require a national or international level response, saying there was likely to be extensive damage over widespread area.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among world leaders to offer support and condolences, posting on X (formerly Twitter), that he was "ready to offer all possible assistance to Morocco in this difficult time."

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on the platform, "our thoughts are with the victims of the devastating earthquake. Our sympathy goes to all those affected by this natural disaster."