A powerful earthquake struck Morocco late Friday night, killing hundreds and damaging buildings and historic landmarks in cities including the tourism hub of Marrakech.
(Bloomberg) — A powerful earthquake struck Morocco late Friday night, killing hundreds and damaging buildings and historic landmarks in cities including the tourism hub of Marrakech.
Morocco’s Interior Ministry said at least 632 people died in provinces near the quake, and another 329 injured were sent to hospitals for treatment, the Associated Press reported. The ministry said most damage occurred outside of urban areas.
Local media reported that rescue efforts were being hampered because roads leading to the mountain region around the epicenter were jammed with vehicles and blocked with rocks, AP said. Power supply was also cut off in some areas, AP reported local media as saying.
The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.8 and was centered near the town of Oukaïmedene in the Moroccan High Atlas Mountain range, roughly 75 kilometers (47 miles) southeast of Marrakech, the US Geological Survey said on its website. Morocco’s National Institute of Geophysics said the quake measured 7 on the Richter scale, online news site Hespress reported.
Moroccans and tourists posted videos on social media showing some buildings reduced to rubble. Parts of the famous red walls that surround the old city in Marrakech, a Unesco World Heritage site, were also damaged, AP said. The quake was felt in Portugal and Spain, according to social media posts.
Nasser Jabour, director of Morocco’s National Institute of Geophysics, said on national broadcaster SNRT that weak aftershocks were recorded at the epicenter of the earthquake in the Al Haouz region. Jabour urged citizens to stay calm, according to Hespress.
Earthquakes of this size in the region are rare, the USGS said. Since 1900, there have been no quakes measuring 6 of more within 500 km of Friday’s quake. One measuring 5.8 further west near Agadir in 1960 caused thousands of deaths.
–With assistance from Sylvia Westall.
(Updates death toll in second paragraph)
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