Moroccan Earthquake Claims 296 Lives amid Significant Structural Destruction
Saturday, September 9, 2023
A powerful earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale has struck central Morocco, resulting in the tragic loss of life. The interior ministry of the country has confirmed that at least 296 people have been killed.
The epicenter of this earthquake was located in the High Atlas Mountains, approximately 71km (44 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, at a depth of 18.5km, as reported by the US Geological Survey.
The earthquake occurred at 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT), and it was followed by a 4.9 magnitude aftershock 19 minutes later.
Most of the casualties have been reported in Marrakesh and its surrounding areas, according to the ministry.
“Based on a preliminary report, the earthquake resulted in the loss of 296 lives in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant,” the statement mentioned. It further disclosed that 153 individuals were injured and are receiving medical treatment.
Unverified video footage shared on X (formerly Twitter) showcases the devastating aftermath, with images of damaged buildings, trembling structures, and streets filled with debris. Panicked individuals can be seen fleeing the scene while others navigate through clouds of dust.
One resident of Marrakesh informed Reuters that several buildings in the old city have collapsed. Although the exact location of these incidents is unknown, various videos on X capture the shocking collapse of buildings.
To ensure their safety in the face of potential strong aftershocks, local residents have chosen to remain outside their homes.
A witness in the historic city described the tremors as an intense shaking, with buildings visibly swaying. “People were in a state of shock and panic. Children were crying, and parents were devastated,” shared Abdelhak El Amrani with the AFP agency.
During this event, there was a temporary disruption of power and communication lines for approximately 10 minutes, as reported by El Amrani.
AFP also stated that one family was trapped in a collapsed house, while numerous individuals in Marrakesh had to be transported to hospitals for medical treatment.
Although the epicenter of the earthquake was in a remote area of the High Atlas Mountains, the tremors were felt in the capital city Rabat, which is 350km away, as well as Casablanca and Essaouira.
Given the remoteness of the affected mountain villages near the epicenter, it may take some time to assess the full extent of the damage and casualties.