A devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck Morocco late Friday night, resulting in the deaths of at least 2,012 people and leaving an additional 2,059 injured, of which 1,404 were in critical condition, as reported by Morocco’s Interior Ministry. Unfortunately, the death toll is expected to rise as first responders face significant challenges in reaching remote villages affected by the disaster. In response, King Mohammed VI has instructed the military to conduct search and rescue operations and set up surgical field hospitals to provide assistance to those residing in isolated areas.
The earthquake originated near Ighil, a town located approximately 44 miles south of the capital city, Marrakesh. Its impact was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria. Despite the extensive damage caused, Morocco has not yet requested international aid. Earthquakes are considered rare in North Africa, with notable occurrences in Al Hoceima and Agadir in 2004 and 1960, respectively. The earthquake in Al Hoceima had a magnitude of 6.4, while Agadir experienced a 5.8 magnitude earthquake.
Marrakesh was hit particularly hard by the earthquake, resulting in the destruction of several historical structures. The renowned Koutoubia Mosque, dating back to the 12th century, sustained unknown damages. Additionally, the ancient red walls that encompass the Medina of Marrakesh, a UNESCO World Heritage site, were also affected by the quake.
Professor Bill McGuire from University College London explained that the lack of robust construction in regions with infrequent earthquakes leads to high casualties in such situations. Buildings are often unable to withstand the strong ground shaking experienced during these rare events, thereby increasing the risk of collapse.
This report contains information provided by The Associated Press.