More than 2,000 people were killed by a strong earthquake that slammed Morocco on Friday night in the High Atlas region close to the historic city of Marrakech.
According to AP, Morocco’s interior minister said on Saturday night that at least 2,012 people had died and 2,059 had been injured. The Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant provinces were severely damaged by the earthquake, which occurred shortly after 11 p.m. On the Atlantic coast, in Rabat and Casablanca, where some locals abandoned their homes and spent the night on the streets, the vibrations could be felt.
In remote mountain towns in the High Atlas region of central Morocco, where the majority of the fatalities have happened, rescuers have spent the day searching among the debris of homes for survivors. The interior ministry reported that Al Haouz and Taroudant had the highest number of fatalities.
The earthquake-induced landslides have made it difficult to reach several villages. Residents of Marrakech have been urged by authorities to give blood. The army has been called in to assist with the rescue effort and the distribution of aid, and the government has declared three days of national mourning.
According to the World Health Organization, Marrakech and its environs were home to more than 300,000 impacted individuals.
The earthquake, which Morocco’s geophysical center reported had a magnitude of 7.2 and occurred in the Ighil region of the High Atlas, was the most severe to have struck the nation since a tremor in 2004 that occurred in al Hoceima in the northern Rif mountains claimed 600 lives. The latest earthquake was given a magnitude of 6.8 by the US Geological Survey.
In the ancient town of Marrakech, where houses and a mosque’s tower had collapsed, cars could be seen covered in rubble. Numerous inhabitants and visitors have converged in the city’s renowned Jemaa al-Fnaa square after fleeing their hotels and residences out of fear of aftershocks.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient city center is home to markets, traditional homes, museums, and mosques. According to local sources, a portion of the center-enclosing medieval city wall had cracked.
According to Montasir Itri, a local of the mountain town of Asni close to the epicentre, many of the homes there were damaged. He said, “Our neighbors are under the rubble.”
Authorities will be concerned about how the earthquake may affect tourism in addition to the damage and casualties. The number of tourists visiting Marrakech is anticipated to increase this year and surpass pre-Covid levels. Morocco was on course to welcome a record 14 million tourists in 2023, according to the tourism ministry.