An earthquake struck the Kingdom of Morocco on Friday night, killing hundreds of people and causing extensive damage to buildings from villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakesh.
The Moroccan Ministry of Interior reported that the number of deaths reached 632 people, and 329 others were injured, so far.
According to the Moroccan Ministry of Interior statement, on Saturday, “An earthquake of 7-Richter, caused distruction, and killing 632 and 329 injured, including 51 serious cases”.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the al Haouz region, southwest of Marrakesh.
Footage was broadcast on Moroccan television showing the aftermath of the quake, with many residents remaining outside for fear of aftershocks.
Anxious families gather in the streets or wait on sidewalks, some carrying their children or blankets and other belongings.
Rescue teams climbed over the collapsed rubble and stones, and there was even a car that was almost submerged in the rubble.
Baskets, buckets and clothes were seen scattered among the debris after a building collapsed.
The historic city of Marrakesh is suffering from massive destruction, as pictures appeared posted online of people running and screaming next to the Koutoubia Mosque, which dates back to the twelfth century and is one of the most prominent historical monuments in the city.
The mosque was damaged according to Moroccan media, but the extent of the damage isn’t yet clear, and its minaret, which is 69 meters high, is known as the Roof of Marrakesh.
videos showed the damage in parts of the famous red walls that surround the old city of Marrakesh, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Regarding rescue efforts, the head of one of the towns near the epicenter of the earthquake told Moroccan M2 News that several houses in neighboring towns partially or completely collapsed, and electricity and road services were disrupted in some areas.
Moroccan authorities are working to clear roads in al Haouz region to enable ambulances and aid to reach the affected population, but due to the large distances between mountain villages, it will take time to estimate the extent of the damage.
Local media reported that the roads leading to the mountainous area surrounding the epicenter were crowded with vehicles and blocked by collapsed rocks, which slowed down rescue operations.
For reference, the US Geological Survey reported that the earthquake measured 6.8 on the Richter scale when it occurred at 11:11 PM local time (22:11 GMT), and the tremor lasted for several seconds.
The US Geological Survey recorded a 4.9 magnitude aftershock that occurred 19 minutes later.
The epicenter of the earthquake was near the town of Ighil in al Haouz Province, about 70 kilometers, to the south of Marrakesh.
The US Geological Survey indicated that the epicenter of the earthquake was at a depth of 18 kilometers below the surface of the earth, while the Moroccan Seismic Agency determined its epicenter.