“Deadly Earthquake Strikes Morocco, Claiming Over 1,000 Lives Across Multiple Regions”

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Devastating Earthquake Strikes Central Morocco

A powerful earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale has rocked central Morocco, resulting in a tragic loss of at least 1,000 lives and causing extensive damage across various regions. The tremors struck suddenly at 11:11 PM local time on Friday, sending residents fleeing to the streets. Reports of “violent” shaking poured in from locations spanning Casablanca to Marrakesh, with numerous buildings left either destroyed or significantly damaged.

Widespread Devastation and Injuries

The High Atlas Mountains, located 71 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, served as the epicenter of the earthquake. While numerous victims are believed to be trapped under debris, rescue operations are currently underway, and several bodies have already been recovered. Hospitals in Marrakesh have been inundated with injured individuals, prompting authorities to appeal for blood donations. The Moroccan Interior Ministry has confirmed casualties across multiple provinces and municipalities, including al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant, with more than 1,200 reported injuries.

Historic Sites Severely Affected

The historic city of Marrakesh has witnessed the collapse of several buildings, with the Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, experiencing severe damage. Dust enveloped the minaret of the iconic Kutubiyya mosque, a popular tourist attraction near the main square of the old city, while the historic Jemaa el Fnaa mosque partially crumbled.

Chaos and Fear Grips the Region

The earthquake prompted chaotic scenes, with residents fleeing Marrakesh in the darkness amid a citywide power outage. Many sought to ensure the safety of their loved ones in nearby towns and villages, resulting in congested roads as people desperately searched for their families. In Amizmiz, located approximately 56 kilometers (35 miles) from Marrakesh, stories of panic and despair emerged as individuals struggled to locate their trapped family members. Many spent the night outdoors, adhering to the Moroccan government’s directive to avoid reentering their homes due to the risk of severe aftershocks. Just 19 minutes after the initial earthquake, a 4.9-magnitude aftershock occurred.

Extensive Damage in Remote Mountain Villages

The full extent of the earthquake’s impact on mountain communities remains uncertain but is anticipated to be substantial. The earthquake’s shallow epicenter in the remote High Atlas Mountains likely led to the destruction of simple structures in these areas. Due to their remote nature, assessing casualties and damage in these villages may take some time. The earthquake also reverberated across the border into neighboring Algeria, though officials there reported no damage or casualties.

International Support and Solidarity

Leaders and nations worldwide expressed their condolences and offered assistance to Morocco. During the G20 summit in Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged international community support. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez conveyed solidarity and support, while French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his sorrow and offered aid. US President Joe Biden, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, and Russian President Vladimir Putin also extended their condolences and solidarity with the Moroccan people. Algeria, despite severed ties with Morocco in 2021, announced its readiness to open airspace for humanitarian and medical flights to assist its neighbor in this time of crisis.

SOURCE: Ref Image from ABC7 New York

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