RABAT, Morocco – In a devastating turn of events, a rare and powerful earthquake shook Morocco late Friday night, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives and causing extensive damage to structures in various parts of the country. The historic city of Marrakech and nearby villages in the Atlas Mountains were particularly affected.
According to the Moroccan Interior Ministry, the current death toll stands at 632 individuals, with the majority of fatalities occurring in Marrakech and five surrounding provinces near the center of the quake. Additionally, 329 people have been reported as injured. Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to rise as rescue efforts continue and reach isolated areas.
As Moroccans grapple with this calamity, scenes captured on television depict the aftermath of the earthquake. In fear of aftershocks, many families opted to remain outdoors, finding solace on the streets or huddled together on pavements. Some clutching their children, blankets, or other personal belongings.
Throughout the night, emergency responders diligently scoured the wreckage of buildings, their reflective yellow vests casting an eerie glow on the landscape. The impact of the quake became apparent as a home was left with a gaping hole, while the debris from a collapsed building nearly swallowed a nearby car.
Amidst the scattered stones and debris, traces of everyday life were visible – baskets, buckets, and items of clothing lay intertwined with remnants of shattered structures.
Reports from Moroccan media reveal damage inflicted upon Marrakech’s esteemed 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque. Although the full extent is yet to be determined, a historical landmark such as this suffering damage is truly a heavy blow. The minaret, standing tall at 69 meters (226 feet), has long been renowned as the “roof of Marrakech.”
Concerned citizens have also taken to social media platforms, sharing videos that showcase sections of the famous red walls surrounding the old city of Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in a state of disrepair.
Heading towards the epicenter, the mayor of a nearby town disclosed to Moroccan news site 2M that several homes in surrounding towns had either partially or completely collapsed. Furthermore, the affected regions experienced power outages and severed road connections.
Abderrahim Ait Daoud, mayor of Talat N’Yaaqoub, stressed that efforts were being made to clear roads in Al Haouz Province, allowing ambulances and aid to reach affected populations. However, given the vast distances between mountainous villages, it will take time to assess and comprehend the scale of the damage inflicted.
Local media sources reported that roads leading to the mountainous region were congested with vehicles and obstructed by fallen rocks, severely hindering the progress of rescue operations.
As the nation grieves for the lives lost and communities attempt to rebuild, Morocco must now unite in solidarity, offering assistance to those impacted by this tragic earthquake.