More than 1,000 people died after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Morocco on Friday night (8). Hundreds of local residents were injured.
The earthquake is the strongest to hit the center of the country in more than a century. Its epicenter was not far from the popular tourist and economic center of Marrakech.
When and where did the earthquake occur?
The earthquake occurred around 11:11 p.m. (local time). Its epicenter was located in the High Atlas mountain range, about 72 kilometers southwest of Marrakech, a city with around 840,000 inhabitants.
Its impact was felt in the northern region of the country as well.
How strong was the earthquake?
The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.8, which classifies it as “strong” on the Richter scale. The quake also reached a relatively shallow depth, making it more destructive.
Earthquakes of this magnitude in the region are uncommon, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but not unexpected. According to the agency, nine earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or greater have hit the area since 1900, but none of them were greater than a magnitude of 6.
The earthquake is the deadliest in Morocco since 1960, when an earthquake killed more than 12,000 people.
Which region was most impacted?
More than 300,000 people were affected in Marrakech and surrounding areas, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Historic sites were damaged.
However, the hardest hit areas are those in the Atlas Mountains region.
Eyewitnesses at the foot of the mountains said some towns were completely destroyed, with almost every house in an area of Asni village damaged.
Hundreds of people died in Al Haouz province and almost 200 in the city of Taroudant, in southwestern Morocco.
The precise scale of the earthquake is still being determined.
How are the rescue operations going?
Rescue operations are ongoing, although some roads are damaged or blocked by debris. Some remote villages at the foot of the mountain have been difficult to access.
Mohammed, 50 years old, from the city of Ouirgane, lost four family members in the earthquake. “I managed to get out safely with my two children, but I lost the rest. My house is gone,” he said.
Rescue operations are currently underway. “We are on the streets with the authorities as they try to remove the dead from the rubble. Many people were taken to the hospital in front of me. We expect miracles from the rubble,” added Mohammed.
In Marrakech, some residents spent the night on the streets, afraid to return to their homes. Others fled the city. There were warnings of aftershocks.
Morocco’s government said it had activated all available resources to tackle the earthquake and called on people to “avoid panic”.
What was the international reaction?
Several world leaders expressed their condolences, as well as offering support to Morocco.
Turkey, hit by an earthquake in February, said it was ready to send 265 people and 1,000 tents to Morocco to support rescue teams.
Algeria, which cut diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021 and closed its airspace to all planes registered in Morocco, said it will reopen its airspace for humanitarian aid and medical flights to and from the Arab country.
The United Nations, US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have also said they stand ready to provide assistance.
Many other world leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, sent their condolences.
See also – CBF: Olympic team is safe in Morocco
Source: CNN Brasil
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