MARRAKECH, MOROCCO- The country of Morocco was recently hit by a devastating earthquake, the most powerful to strike the North African nation in over a century. The 6.8 magnitude quake resulted in the loss of over 1,000 lives, with the death toll expected to rise as rescue efforts continue. The quake, which occurred late Friday, caused widespread panic as people fled their homes amidst falling debris and collapsing buildings.
The earthquake’s impact was most severe in mountainous villages and ancient cities, where buildings were not designed to withstand such force. The quake’s aftermath revealed the extent of the destruction, with stone and masonry walls crumbled and entire communities buried under rubble. The impoverished mountain community of Moulay Brahim was particularly hard hit, with most of its clay and brick homes rendered uninhabitable.
In the wake of the disaster, a large tent that’s typically used for celebrations was set up in the center of Moulay Brahim to provide shelter for the displaced residents. Heartbreaking scenes unfolded as fathers wept while recounting the loss of their children over the phone. The local health center was filled with injured individuals, with doctors working tirelessly to remove shards from victims’ feet and treat surface wounds.
The quake also caused significant damage to the historic city of Marrakech. Residents were seen huddled in the streets, fearful of returning to potentially unstable buildings. The city’s renowned Koutoubia Mosque, a 12th-century structure, suffered damage, although the full extent is yet to be determined. Videos posted by locals showed damage to parts of the famous red walls that encircle the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
According to Morocco’s Interior Ministry, the quake resulted in at least 1,037 deaths, primarily in Marrakech and five nearby provinces. Additionally, 1,204 people were injured, with 721 in critical condition. Rescue efforts were underway, with rescuers using tools to free individuals trapped under collapsed buildings.
The quake’s epicenter was near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province, about 70 kilometers south of Marrakech. The Moroccan military and emergency services were mobilized to aid the hardest-hit areas. However, rescue efforts were hampered by blocked roads and fallen rocks.