June 21, 2024

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Morocco earthquake leaves at least 820 dead, injures hundreds of others, and causes damage to historical monuments

Morocco earthquake leaves at least 820 dead, injures hundreds of others, and causes damage to historical monuments

A strong earthquake struck Morocco late Friday night, killing at least 820 people, injuring more than 670 others and damaging buildings and historical monuments in major cities, according to the Moroccan Interior Ministry.

In Marrakesh, the famous Koutoubia Mosque, dating back to the twelfth century, was damaged, but the extent of the damage was not immediately clear.

The Moroccan Interior Ministry said early Saturday that at least 296 people had died in provinces near the earthquake. In addition, 153 wounded were sent to hospitals for treatment. The ministry wrote that most of the damage occurred outside cities and towns.

Moroccans posted video clips showing buildings turned into rubble and dust, and parts of the famous red walls surrounding the old city of Marrakesh, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, were damaged. Tourists and others posted videos of people screaming and emptying restaurants in the city while soft club music played.

People were checking the news on their phones after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake in Rabat, Morocco, on September 8, 2023.

Musab Al-Shami / A.B

Reports of damage and any casualties often take some time to appear after many earthquakes, especially those that occur in the middle of the night.

Abdel Haq Al-Omrani (33 years old) told AFP by phone, “We felt a very violent tremor and I realized it was an earthquake.”

“I could see the buildings moving,” Al-Omrani said. “We don’t necessarily have reactions to this type of situation. Then I went out and there were a lot of people there. People were all in shock and panic. The children were crying and the parents were distraught.”

This image from video footage captured by AFPTV shows people outdoors in Marrakesh on September 9, 2023, after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Morocco.

Faisal Baddour/AFP/AFP via Getty Images

Instead of returning to the buildings, men, women and children remained on the streets, worried about aftershocks and other echoes that could cause their homes to shake.

US Geological Survey She said the earthquake had an initial magnitude of 6.8 When it struck at 11:11 p.m. local time, with shaking that lasted several seconds. The National Earthquake Monitoring and Warning Network in Morocco measured it at 7 on the Richter scale. The US agency reported that a 4.9 magnitude aftershock occurred 19 minutes later.

The epicenter of Friday’s earthquake was high in the Atlas Mountains, about 43.5 miles southwest of Marrakesh. It was also near Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa and Oukaimeden, the famous Moroccan ski resort.

The US Geological Survey said that the epicenter of the earthquake was 11 miles below the surface of the Earth, while the Moroccan Seismic Agency determined its epicenter at a depth of 5 miles. The quake was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria, according to the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere and the Algerian Civil Defense Agency, which oversees the emergency response.

Differences in early measurements are common, although any reading would be the strongest in Morocco in years.

In 2004, at least 628 people were killed and 926 others injured when an earthquake struck Al Hoceima in northeastern Morocco, according to Agence France-Presse.

In 1980, the 7.3-magnitude earthquake in neighboring Algeria was one of the largest and most destructive earthquakes in modern history, AFP reported. It led to the death of 2,500 people and the displacement of at least 300,000 people.

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