The Ministry of Internal Affairs announced that the loss of life has exceeded 1,300 in the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck central parts of the country. More than 1800 people were injured in the earthquake that occurred on Friday night.
Three days of national mourning was declared in the country.
The US Geological Survey announced that the epicenter was at a depth of 18.5 km in the High Atlas Mountains, 71 km southwest of Marrakesh.
The earthquake occurred on Friday night at 23:11 local time. An aftershock of magnitude 4.9 struck 19 minutes after the earthquake.
The ministry said the deaths occurred in Marrakesh and quake-hit areas in the south.
It is reported that people are waiting for rescue under the debris in the mountainous area, which was the epicenter of the earthquake, but access to the area is limited due to damaged roads and landslides.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs announced that the military had been deployed for search and rescue operations.
According to the United Nations, more than 300 thousand people in and around Marrakesh were affected by the earthquake.
“According to a provisional report, the earthquake was effective in the Al-Huz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichoua and Taroudant regions,” the Interior Ministry statement said.
Video footage published on X (formerly Twitter) showed damaged buildings and roads reduced to debris.
A local resident who spoke to Reuters news agency said some buildings collapsed in part of the old city of Marrakech.
If strong tremors hit the city, residents spent the night outside.
“People were in shock and panic. Children were crying and parents were devastated,” an earthquake survivor in the historic city told AFP.
He said electricity and telephone lines remained down for 10 minutes.
The epicenter of the earthquake, which struck a remote area of the High Atlas Mountains, was relatively shallow and tremors were felt in Casablanca and Essaouira, as well as in the capital Rabat, about 350 km away.
Morocco is not really an area where earthquakes are that strong.
There has been no earthquake with a magnitude greater than 6.0 since 1900.
The epicenter of that earthquake was 500 kilometers away from yesterday’s earthquake.
It is said that the collision between the plates supporting the European and African continents was the main tectonic factor behind the earthquake.
This earthquake is seen as a continuation of the fault movement that is constantly pushing the Atlas Mountains upward by 4 mm per year.
Most of the earthquake activity resulting from sudden “crashes” in this slow geological movement actually occurs east of the Mediterranean Sea in Italy, Greece, and Turkey.
The earthquake was also felt in neighboring Algeria, but officials said there was no loss of life or property.
Algeria, which has severed diplomatic ties with Morocco for two years, announced that its airspace could be used for humanitarian aid.
In a statement given by the United Nations, it was said that more than 300 thousand people in Marrakesh and its surrounding areas have been affected by the earthquake.
It was stressed that the UN Humanitarian Coordination Center is closely monitoring the developments and stands ready to assist.
“Turkey is ready to provide all assistance to heal the wounds,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement expressing its condolences.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at the G20 summit that started in Delhi today, said that the international community will help Morocco.
Messages of condolences and support were also shared from other leaders participating in the G20.