Devastating Morocco Earthquake Claims Over 800 Lives, Confirms Government

Strong earthquake in Morocco kills more than 800 people

MARRAKECH, Morocco — A rare, massive earthquake was felt in Morocco late on Friday evening, killing more than 800 people and destroying buildings that range from the villages of the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakech. However, the exact number of deaths was not disclosed as rescuers struggled through the roads littered with boulders to reach remote mountain villages struck the hardest.

The people who awoke to the quake were rushing out into the streets in fear and stupor. A man who was in an apartment nearby said that dishes and wall hangings started falling, and people were thrown off their chairs and feet. A woman said she fled her home after experiencing an “intense shaking. A parent in a man’s arms told of being slammed awake in bed due to the shaking.

State television showed people congregating on areas of Marrakech in fear of getting back into buildings that could remain unstable. Many hid themselves in blankets and tried to rest outside.

The magnitude 6.8 earthquake was the strongest to strike Morocco in the last 120 years and it smashed down walls and structures in old cities built of brick and stone that were not built to withstand earthquakes.

earthquake in Morocco has killed more than 800 people

“The problem is that where destructive earthquakes are rare, buildings are simply not constructed robustly enough to cope with strong ground shaking, so many collapse resulting in high casualties,” said Bill McGuire, professor emeritus of geophysical and climate dangers of University College London. “I would expect the final death toll to climb into the thousands once more is known. As with any big quake, aftershocks are likely, which will lead to further casualties and hinder search and rescue.”

As a sign of the immense scale of the disaster the King of Morocco Mohammed VI ordered the armed forces to mobilise land and air assets as well as special teams for search and rescue and a field hospital for surgical procedures in an official statement issued by the military. In spite of a flood of assistance from all over the world, the Moroccan government had not officially sought assistance, a prerequisite prior to the rescue teams from outside be deployed.

In Marrakech the famed Koutoubia Mosque, built in the 12th century, was destroyed However, the extent was not clear at the time. The size of a 69-meter (226-foot) minaret has been referred to by its name as”the “roof of Marrakech.” Moroccans have also shared videos that show damage to those famous walls of red that surround ancient city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

There were at least 820 deaths most of them within Marrakech along with five provinces around the epicenter of the earthquake in addition to 672 who were injured, the country’s Interior Ministry reported Saturday morning. Of those injured, the ministry reported that 205 were seriously injured.

Rescuers remained awake to search for survivors through the darkness dust and rubble.

The majority of the small community located in Moulay Brahim, carved into an elongated mountainside to the south of Marrakech was abandoned after the walls fell windows shattering and more than a dozen houses became piles of bent steel poles. At least five people were shackled.

Ayoub Toudite told reporters that he had been exercising with his friends at the gym, when “we felt a huge shake like it was doomsday.” In just 10 seconds, he claimed that everything had gone.

“We found casualties and people running and kids crying,” the official told The Associated Press. “We never saw anything like this, 20 deaths in the area, 30 injuries.”

Rescuers used the hammers and axes in order for releasing a man who was trapped beneath a two-story house. Anyone who could squeeze their way into the tiny room were offering the man water.

“We are all terrified that this happens again,” Toudite stated.

The mayor of a town close to the epicenter of the earthquake said to Moroccan news website 2M that a number of houses in towns nearby were completely or partially destroyed while roads and electricity were shut off in a few locations.

Abderrahim Ait Daoud, head of the town of Talat N’Yaaqoub, said authorities are working to clear the roads throughout Al Haouz Province to allow ambulances to travel and provide aid to the affected population However, he said the vast distances between villages in the mountains make it difficult to determine the extent of the damage.

It was reported that the Moroccan military deployed aircrafts drones, helicopters and helicopters as well as emergency services stepped up aid efforts for the regions affected by damage but the roads that connect to the mountain range close to the epicenter were blocked with vehicles, and blocked by fallen rocks, causing delays to the rescue efforts. Trucks laden with blankets, camping cots, and other lighting equipment tried to get into the is hard-hit according to the news agency MAP announced.

On the winding and steep switchbacks that run from Marrakech towards Al Haouz, ambulances with sirens blasting and honking cars were spotted circling the piles of red rock with a Mars-like appearance that fell down the mountainside, blocking the road. Red Cross workers tried to remove a boulder that was blocking from the highway’s two lanes.

In the early hours of Saturday in Marrakech Motorcycles and ambulances speeded by on the edge of Marrakech’s old town in which business as usual was resumed on early on Saturday morning. Visitors and pedestrians negotiated roads and took photos of the sections of the wall made of clay which had cracked, spilling dust and fragments onto the streets and sidewalks.

World leaders announced plans to send assistance or rescue teams as condolences were offered from around Europe as well as across the Middle East and a Group of 20 summit in India. The Turkish president, who’s country suffered the loss of tens and thousands of people during a massive earthquake in the course of this year, was among those who offered aid. France and Germany which have huge populations of people from Moroccan origins are also willing to assist as did the heads of both Ukraine as well as Russia have expressed their support for Moroccans.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was an initial magnitude of 6.8 on November 11, 2011 p.m. (2211 GMT) which was followed by shaking for some minutes. It was reported that the U.S. agency reported a magnitude of 4.9 aftershock, which struck 19 minutes after the initial quake.

It was believed that the epicenter for Friday’s earthquake was in the city of Ighil located in Al Haouz Province, roughly 70 km (43.5 miles) south of Marrakech. Al Haouz is known for picturesque villages and valleys hidden into mountains of the High Atlas, and villages that are built into mountain slopes.

The USGS stated that the epicenter was 18 km (11 miles) below the surface of the Earth The Moroccan seismic agency estimated it to be 11 km (7 miles) below the surface. The quakes in shallower depths are more risky.

Initial reports suggest that damage and deaths were extensive throughout the Marrakech-Safi region. has more than 4.5 million residents call home according to the state statistics.

Earthquakes are extremely uncommon within North Africa. Lahcen Mhanni, the head of the Seismic Monitoring and Warning Department at the National Institute of Geophysics, informed 2M TV that the earthquake was the strongest one recorded in the region.

In 1960 in the year 1960, an earthquake of magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Agadir. Moroccan town of Agadir and resulted in thousands of deaths.

The Agadir earthquake led to changes in the construction regulations in Morocco However, many structures particularly rural ones aren’t built to withstand the quakes.

In 2004 an 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Al Hoceima, a Mediterranean coast city Al Hoceima left more than 600 dead.

The Friday quake could be felt as in Portugal and Algeria in the words of Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria’s Civil Defense agency, which manages the emergency response.


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