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A Powerful Earthquake Strikes Morocco, Causing Devastation and Loss of Life



On Friday night, Morocco was hit by a powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake, resulting in the loss of nearly 300 lives and widespread destruction. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that this was the strongest tremor to strike that part of the North African nation in over a century.

The earthquake occurred in Morocco’s High Atlas mountain range, with the epicenter located approximately 72 kilometers southwest of Marrakech, a popular tourist destination. The quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5 kilometers, causing significant impact and damage.

According to Morocco’s Interior Ministry, at least 296 people were killed and 153 others were injured. Most of the casualties occurred in mountainous areas that proved difficult to access, complicating rescue efforts. The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces warned residents to remain cautious, as aftershocks were still possible.

The USGS stated that earthquakes of this magnitude are uncommon in the region, but not entirely unexpected. They highlighted that since 1900, no earthquakes with a magnitude of 6 or higher had occurred within 500 kilometers of the recent quake. They emphasized the potential for significant damage and widespread disaster, particularly as many structures in the area were highly vulnerable to seismic activity.

State-run Al-Aoula television showcased the extent of the devastation, with numerous buildings near the epicenter collapsing. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes following warnings of aftershocks from the country’s National Institute of Geophysics. In the mountain village of Asni, near the epicenter, most houses suffered damage, and rescue efforts were underway to free trapped residents.

Reports indicated that the tremors were also felt further west in Taroudant, prompting residents to flee their homes. Aftershocks continued to be experienced after the initial quake, causing further anxiety and distress. In Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its historical significance, collapsed buildings and damaged facades were observed, and locals were clearing debris while awaiting heavy equipment.

Marrakech, often referred to as the “red city,” due to its distinctive red sandstone buildings, attracts millions of tourists each year. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the city welcomed nearly three million visitors in 2019, drawn to its rich cultural heritage and vibrant markets. However, the earthquake has taken a toll on this historic city, with the quake damaging some of the ancient walls and ramparts.

Furthermore, Marrakech is not only a cultural hub but also one of Morocco’s major economic centers. As the country’s fourth-largest city, the earthquake’s impact extends beyond the loss of life and destruction of infrastructure, affecting the local economy and livelihoods.

The tremors were not limited to Marrakech, as shaking was also felt in the capital, Rabat, which is approximately 350 kilometers north of the High Atlas mountains.

This devastating earthquake in Morocco serves as a tragic reminder of the unpredictable nature of seismic events and the need to prioritize safety measures to protect vulnerable areas and communities.


Adebisi Ayodele

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