Rescuers in Morocco are working tirelessly to reach survivors trapped under the debris after a powerful earthquake struck, resulting in a tragic loss of lives and extensive damage to villages. Here’s what we know so far:
Strongest-ever in Morocco: The earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, struck in the Atlas mountain range, approximately 72 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of Marrakesh. It is the strongest earthquake in Morocco’s history, as confirmed by the US Geological Survey. The tremors were also felt in other cities, including Rabat, Casablanca, Essaouira, and Agadir.
Historic City Hit: Marrakesh, a popular tourist destination known for its UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site medina, was damaged in the earthquake. The city’s 12th-century ramparts partially collapsed, prompting some residents to camp out on the Jemaa el-Fna square due to fears of their homes collapsing.
Atlas Villages Devastated: The most severe destruction occurred in the remote villages of the High Atlas, specifically in the provinces of Al-Haouz and Taroudant. Villages like Tafeghaghte and Moulay Brahim, near the earthquake’s epicenter, were nearly completely destroyed. In Tafeghaghte alone, around 70 out of approximately 100 residents lost their lives.
Rising Death Toll: The earthquake has resulted in a tragic loss of life, with at least 2,012 people reported dead and 2,059 others injured. Of the injured, 1,404 are in critical condition, according to Morocco’s interior ministry. Most of the casualties occurred in Al-Haouz province (1,293 deaths) and Taroudant (at least 452 deaths). One French national was among the victims.
Rescue Efforts Underway: The rescue operation is ongoing, with teams working to access the hardest-hit areas, including remote mountain villages. The Moroccan Red Crescent and the army are leading the rescue efforts. International assistance has been offered, with Spain sending 56 rescue workers, drilling equipment, and search dogs. Other nations, including EU members, the United States, Turkey, and Israel, have expressed solidarity with Morocco and stand ready to assist.
National Mourning: Morocco declared three days of national mourning in the wake of this devastating earthquake. The decision was made following a meeting presided over by King Mohammed VI.
The situation remains critical, with rescue efforts focused on saving lives and providing assistance to the affected regions.