At least 1,000 people have been killed in a major earthquake in Morocco. According to the Ministry of the Interior, more than 1,200 people have been injured.
Images from the disaster area, near Marrakech, show that there is a lot of damage to buildings. In Marrakech, buildings collapsed and streets and cars were buried under rubble.
There are reports that one of the city’s best-known monuments, the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque, has been damaged, but it is not clear how seriously. The almost 70 meter high minaret of the mosque is known as “the roof of Marrakech”.
A local news site reports that hospitals in Marrakech are seeing a “mass influx” of injured people.
The quake occurred just after 11 p.m. local time (midnight in the Netherlands) and had a magnitude of 7.2, according to the Moroccan geological service. The US Geological Survey lists a magnitude of 6.8. About twenty minutes later there was another aftershock with a magnitude of 4.9.
“While walking we felt it shaking under our feet. My wife thought it was a helicopter or something,” said a witness in Marrakech. “But I told her it was an earthquake. And suddenly people were running in all directions in the street.”
“It felt like a train was passing right by our houses,” said another witness. “People took to the streets in total panic. There are families who are still sleeping on the streets because they were so scared by the force of the earthquake.”
The epicenter was in the Al Haouz region in the Atlas Mountains, about 70 kilometers southwest of Marrakech. According to a Moroccan official, the most victims have occurred in that area. It is an inhospitable region and there is still a lot of uncertainty about the situation on the ground.
A resident of Asni, a village near the epicenter, told Reuters news agency that almost all houses there had been damaged. There are also believed to be people still buried under the rubble. Residents do what they can to save their fellow villagers.
Witnesses tell what they noticed about the earthquake:
Images also show that many people fled outside in panic when the quake started. Many people spent the night on the streets. This also happened in cities at a greater distance from the epicenter, such as Casablanca and the capital Rabat, about 400 kilometers further north.
Major earthquakes do not occur often in Morocco, although the north of the country regularly experiences smaller quakes.
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