Powerful Earthquake Strikes Morocco, Causing Damage and Panic
Late on Friday, a powerful earthquake hit Morocco, causing significant damage to buildings in major cities and leading to widespread panic among the population. The earthquake, which had its epicenter in the Atlas Mountains, approximately 70 kilometers south of Marrakech, also affected popular tourist destinations such as Toubkal and Oukaimeden.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 and occurred at 11:11 p.m. local time. The shaking lasted for several seconds, causing buildings to collapse and resulting in unconfirmed reports of deaths, particularly in hard-to-reach areas south of Marrakech. Morocco’s National Seismic Monitoring and Alert Network measured the earthquake at 7 on the Richter scale.
Videos shared on social media showed buildings reduced to rubble and parts of the famous red walls surrounding the old city of Marrakech damaged. Tourists and locals were seen evacuating restaurants as club music played in the background. Debris was scattered across narrow alleyways, and items fell off shelves due to the tremors.
The impact of the earthquake was not limited to Marrakech; it was also felt in other coastal cities such as Rabat, Casablanca, and Essaouira. In Essaouira, located 200 kilometers west of Marrakech, residents reported panic and damage to facades. Many people chose to sleep outside in squares and cafes due to fear.
The USGS’s PAGER system, which assesses the impact of earthquakes, issued an orange alert for economic losses and a yellow alert for shaking-related fatalities. This indicates that significant damage is likely, and there is a possibility of casualties.
Morocco is prone to earthquakes due to its location between the African and Eurasian plates. In 2004, a quake in Al Hoceima resulted in the deaths of 628 people and injured 926 others. The country’s most devastating earthquake occurred in 1980 in neighboring Algeria, with a magnitude of 7.3. It claimed the lives of 2,500 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
While earthquakes are relatively rare in North Africa, this recent event is one of the strongest to hit Morocco in years. The varying measurements reported by different agencies are common in the early stages of assessing earthquakes.
As a result of the earthquake, internet connectivity was disrupted in Marrakech due to power cuts in the region. This further complicated communication and access to information during the crisis.
The Moroccan government has yet to release official reports on casualties or the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake. However, it is clear that the impact has been significant, with buildings collapsing and people fleeing into the streets in fear.
As the country begins to recover from this natural disaster, it is crucial for authorities to assess the structural integrity of buildings and provide support to affected communities. The resilience and unity of the Moroccan people will undoubtedly play a vital role in rebuilding and moving forward from this tragic event.
In conclusion, Morocco experienced a powerful earthquake that caused widespread damage and panic in major cities. The exact impact and casualties are still unknown, but it is clear that significant efforts will be required to recover from this disaster.