Late Friday night, an infrequent and sturdy earthquake hit Morocco (Marrakech). It damaged buildings of villages in the Atlas Mountains in the significant city of Marrakech and killed over 1000 people. Rescue workers struggled to get through the stone-strewn streets to the faraway mountain villages, which hit the hardest, so the exact number of dead people was not identified.
Awakened by the earthquake’s tremors, people came out on the streets in fear. State TV showed people swarming the streets of Morocco late at night, reluctance to go back inside buildings that may still threaten them.
A man said, “I was walking past a nearby flat when furniture and dishes started falling from the walls, and people’s feet and chairs fell off.” A woman explained how she escaped her house after “severe tremors.” A man told how he was holding a child on his bed when the earth was shivering.
The magnitude of the earthquake was recorded at 6.8, the highest so far in 120 years, and the earthquake destroyed the stone and masonry buildings and walls in ancient cities that were not designed to bear earthquakes.
Bill McGuire, the lecturer emeritus of climate dangers and geophysics at University College London, said that the real problem is that in places where catastrophic earthquakes occur infrequently, buildings are not built strong enough to withstand the strong shocks of earthquakes, which leads to more loss of life due to the collapse of buildings. He explained more that he would again estimate the final death toll in the thousands. After any powerful earthquake, some aftershocks cause more deaths and hinder search and rescue efforts.
Morocco’s well-known Koutoubia Mosque, constructed in the 12th century, was also damaged, but the period was unclear. Its minaret of 226 feet (69 meters) is also known as the “roof of Marrakech.” Moroccans also posted videos in which parts of the red walls around the old city can be seen tearing apart, which is included in UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage.
Interior Ministry Reports About Earthquake
On Saturday morning, Morocco’s Interior Ministry said at least 1000 people had died, including in five provinces near the epicenter and mainly in Morocco, and another 672 people were injured. Of these injured people, 205 are in critical condition– Interior Ministry of Morocco. Rescue workers worked all night to search the survivors in the residue, darkness, and dust.
“Several houses in nearby towns have been partially or completely destroyed, and power and roads have been cut in some places.” A village leader near the earthquake’s middle narrated a Moroccan news site 2M.
“Authorities are trying to clear roads in Al-Haouz Province to allow ambulances to pass and aid affected peoples, but the long distance between mountain villages means it will take longer to know the extent of the damage.” The head of the village, Talat N’Yaaqoub, Abderrahim Ait Daoud reported.
The Moroccan army and emergency services sent relief efforts to the affected areas. Still, roads around the epicenter that lead into mountainous areas were blocked by crushed rock and jammed with vehicles, reducing relief services. “Trucks packed with blankets, camp cots, and lighting tools are trying to reach the worst affected areas.” MAP, the official agency said.
Ambulances with cars blaring sirens and honking their horns drive around piles of red Mars-like rocks that have dropped down the mountain and block the road On the vertical and twisted switchbacks from Morocco to Al Haouz. Red Cross workers attempted to clear the boulder, stopping the two-lane roadway.