Devastating 6.8-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Morocco, Leaving Over 2,000 Dead and Widespread Destruction
In an unprecedented and devastating event, Morocco was struck by a rare and powerful earthquake, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The quake, with a magnitude of 6.8, is the most significant to hit this North African country in over a century, catching residents off guard and unleashing chaos in its path.
The seismic event, which occurred late on a Friday evening, prompted an immediate exodus from homes and sent shockwaves of panic through the population. Eyewitnesses reported an eerie scene as dishes and wall hangings tumbled, and people were thrown to the ground.
The earthquake’s impact was particularly severe in areas ill-equipped to withstand such force, causing ancient buildings and mountainous villages to crumble. Communities were buried beneath the rubble as walls made of stone and masonry collapsed, leaving a grim scene of devastation.
Throughout the High Atlas Mountains, each town experienced a similar nightmare, with homes imploding and grieving parents mourning their children while helmet-clad police carried away the deceased. Remote villages, like those in the drought-stricken Ouargane Valley, found themselves cut off from the world as they lost electricity and cellphone connectivity.
By midday, people emerged from their homes to mourn their neighbors, documenting the damage with their camera phones and seeking solace in one another’s company, repeating the mantra, “May God save us.”
The toll of this catastrophe was staggering, with the Moroccan Interior Ministry reporting at least 2,012 fatalities, primarily in Marrakech and five provinces near the quake’s epicenter. An additional 2,059 individuals were injured, with 1,404 in critical condition.
Experts pointed to the vulnerability of buildings in regions unaccustomed to destructive earthquakes, emphasizing the need for more robust construction standards. Bill McGuire, a professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, underscored this challenge.
Recognizing the magnitude of the disaster, King Mohammed VI of Morocco ordered the armed forces to deploy specialized search and rescue teams and a surgical field hospital. He expressed his intention to visit the hardest-hit area personally. Despite offers of assistance pouring in from around the world, the Moroccan government had not formally requested aid, a necessary step for outside rescue teams to intervene.
The epicenter of the earthquake was near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province, roughly 70 kilometers south of Marrakech, known for its picturesque villages nestled in the High Atlas Mountains.
The aftermath was characterized by a harrowing journey through unpaved roads in the High Atlas Mountains, as police, emergency vehicles, and fleeing residents cleared boulders obstructing the already challenging routes.
In the village of Ijjoukak, in the vicinity of Toubkal, North Africa’s tallest peak, nearly 200 buildings lay in ruins.
Morocco declared three days of national mourning, with flags flying at half-staff on all public facilities.
The global community extended offers of aid and condolences, with world leaders pledging support and assistance as Morocco grapples with the aftermath of this tragic earthquake.