More than 2,100 people have died as a result of a magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck Morocco late Friday, with the death toll expected to rise when rescuers reach hard-hit rural mountain districts.
Here’s all you need to know about the earthquake and the ongoing rescue efforts:
When and where did the earthquake happen?
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake occurred after 11 p.m. (22:00 GMT) on Friday evening. It hit 72 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, Morocco’s fourth largest city.
Ighil, a mountainous rural commune in Al-Haouz province near the Oukaimeden ski resort in the Atlas Mountains, served as the epicenter. The tremor was felt across the country, especially in Ouarzazate, Marrakesh, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant. Tremors were detected as far south as Huelva and Jaen in Spain.
How Strong was the Morroco Earthquake?
A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck Morocco, making it its deadliest since 1960. The quake struck at a shallow depth, making it more destructive. The US Geological Survey notes that earthquakes of this size are uncommon in the region, but not unexpected. Nine quakes with a magnitude of 5 or higher have hit the area since 1900, but none have had a magnitude higher than 6.
Where is the most extensive damage?
Nearly 1,500 people have died in the province of Al Haouz, south of Morocco, due to a devastating earthquake at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. The region, which includes remote villages and settlements, has been difficult for rescuers to reach. Witnesses reported that some towns were completely destroyed, with homes in the village of Asni damaged. The scale of the quake’s impact is still being understood, with the most severely affected villages being the most affected.
A quake in Morocco has flattened a village at the base of the Atlas Mountains, causing loud noises and a feeling of a train passing through the living room. Over 400 people have died in the southwestern Moroccan city of Taroudant, while over 300,000 people have been affected in Marrakech and surrounding areas, according to the World Health Organization. Historic sites have been damaged, with a small mosque at the heart of the Marrakech Medina almost collapsed. The Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is enclosed by red sandstone walls and has many old buildings damaged. Images outside the city show the 12th century Tinmal Mosque in the High Atlas mountains having been badly damaged.
How does this earthquake compare to previous ones in Morocco?
On September 8th, the earthquake with 6.8 magnitude hitted which was the deadliest in more than 60 years.
- March 1954, magnitude 7.8
- September 2023, magnitude 6.8
- March 1964, magnitude 6.6
- February 2004, magnitude 6.4
- June 1910, magnitude 6.4
- January 2016, magnitude 6.3
- April 2010, magnitude 6.3
- May 1994, magnitude 6.0
- February 1960, magnitude 5.8( It was deadliest which killed12,000+ people).
A magnitude 6.8 earthquake is considered “strong.”
Magnitudes are based on a logarithmic scale, which means that the strength multiplies by 10 for every whole number rise on the scale. So the magnitude 5.8 earthquake in 1960 was 10 times weaker than the one on Friday.
What rescue operations are under way?
The earthquake in Morocco has caused rock slides that have blocked roads and made it difficult for rescue teams to reach affected mountainous areas. The National Centre for Blood Donation and Investigation reported that 6,000 bags of blood were collected in a single day through large-scale campaigns initiated by regional blood donation centres and civil society associations. People in the Atlas Mountains have called on Marrakesh residents to help them, with many walking 20 miles with water and food to reach villages in need.
International Reactions on Morroco’s Earthquake.
World leaders have expressed condolences and offered support to Morocco, with France activating emergency aid from local government funds for humanitarian operations in quake-affected regions and providing 5 million euros ($5.3M) to non-governmental organizations for rescue efforts.
A Spanish search and rescue team, consisting of 56 soldiers and four dogs, has arrived in Marrakech to assist in the aftermath of a recent earthquake. Turkey is ready to send 265 personnel and 1,000 tents to Morocco to support aid efforts. Britain has deployed 60 specialists, including four dogs, rescue equipment, and a medical assessment team. Algeria, which severed diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021, will reopen its airspace for humanitarian aid and medical flights. The Red Cross Society of China will send $200,000 in emergency humanitarian cash assistance to the Moroccan Red Crescent. The United Nations, US President Joe Biden, and the World Bank have also pledged their support.