The death toll from the powerful earthquake that rocked Morocco on Friday night has risen to 820, with 672 people injured, according to the latest official figures. The quake, which measured 6.8 on the Richter scale, was the strongest to hit the North African country in more than a century. It struck near the town of Ighil in the High Atlas mountains, about 72 kilometers southwest of Marrakech, a popular tourist destination.
The quake caused widespread damage and panic across several cities and regions, including Marrakech, Safi, Essaouira, Agadir, and Casablanca. Many buildings collapsed or were severely damaged, especially in rural areas where construction standards are low. The quake also triggered landslides and rockfalls that blocked roads and hampered rescue efforts.
Several videos captured by eyewitnesses and shared on social media show the terrifying moments of the quake and its aftermath. Some of the videos are:
The Moroccan government has declared a state of emergency and mobilized all available resources to deal with the disaster. King Mohammed VI has expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and ordered an investigation into the causes and consequences of the quake. He has also instructed the authorities to provide assistance and support to the affected people.
Several world leaders have also offered their solidarity and support to Morocco in this difficult time. They include US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Pope Francis.
The earthquake has highlighted Morocco’s seismic vulnerability and raised questions about its preparedness for such events. Morocco lies on a complex tectonic boundary where the African plate converges with the Eurasian plate. The country has experienced several earthquakes in its history, but none as devastating as this one.
The last major earthquake to hit Morocco was in 1960, when a 5.7-magnitude quake killed about 15,000 people in Agadir. The deadliest earthquake in Morocco’s history was in 1755, when a 8.5-magnitude quake triggered a tsunami that killed about 40,000 people in Safi and Essaouira.