A devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 struck Morocco, resulting in a tragic loss of over 800 lives and leaving hundreds injured. This powerful quake, the deadliest in Morocco in over six decades, hit the High Atlas mountains late on a Friday night.
The Interior Ministry provided an updated casualty count of 820 people killed and 672 injured. Most of the fatalities occurred in remote mountainous areas that were challenging to access. In Marrakech, the nearest major city to the epicenter, residents were too afraid to return to their homes and spent the night outdoors.
The earthquake caused significant damage to buildings, including those in Marrakech’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jemaa al-Fna Square, the heart of the old city, saw a mosque minaret collapse, prompting rescue efforts.
— the19juicer🔴 (@the19juicer) September 8, 2023
Local hospitals in the area were overwhelmed, and around 150 people, mostly relatives of the injured, gathered outside a local hospital. Many of them had come from mountainous regions outside the city due to their local hospitals lacking the capacity to treat serious injuries.
Residents of Marrakech’s old city described the panic and chaos as people fled to safety, fearing that the old houses might collapse one after another.
An Australian tourist recounted the terrifying experience, stating that the room started shaking, and they hastily evacuated their accommodation.
– Al Haouz: 94 dead
– Chichaoua: 6 dead
– Azilal: 5 dead
– Marrakech: 4 dead
– Ouarzazate: 4 dead
– Agadir: 2 dead
Total: 115 dead, expected to rise pic.twitter.com/aEA9aVvZTa
— Jaya Mishra 🇮🇳 (@anchorjaya) September 9, 2023
The Interior Ministry urged calm and provided information on the affected provinces, including Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant.
Residents in the mountain village of Asni, near the epicenter, reported extensive damage to houses. They also mentioned ongoing efforts to rescue those trapped under the rubble.
Further west, near Taroudant, a teacher described his experience of feeling aftershocks and witnessing doors opening and shutting during the initial tremor.
— Muhammad Arif Khan (@M_Arif61) September 9, 2023
Morocco’s geophysical center reported that the earthquake struck just after 11 p.m. (2200 GMT) in the Ighil area of the High Atlas, a region with small farming villages located approximately 70 km (40 miles) southwest of Marrakech.
The earthquake’s tremors were even felt in parts of southern Spain, including Huelva and Jaen in Andalusia, according to reports from Spanish television RTVE.
Various governments from around the world expressed solidarity and offered assistance. Turkey, which had experienced its own devastating earthquakes earlier in the year, expressed readiness to provide support.
This earthquake occurred just ahead of Marrakech’s scheduled hosting of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in early October.