The Moroccan king has mobilized the army and rescue services from across the country to help in the earthquake zone. Rescue workers have been working since last night to remove victims from the rubble.
Amateur footage circulating on social media shows the moment the earthquake occurred:
The Moroccan state broadcaster reports that people are trapped under the rubble in the province of Chichaoua, among other places. Excavators are trying to free them. At least 89 bodies have been recovered there.
Rescue operations are also underway in and around Marrakech, the provinces of Taroudant and Al Haouz and around the city of Ouarzazate.
Najib Chakir, who lives in the Netherlands, is on holiday in Marrakech. “Everyone spent the night on the streets here. I was close to the main road and there was a coming and going of emergency services. Ambulances went non-stop to the affected area, also from Rabat and Casablanca.”
Chakir also saw the army entering the affected area. “Towards the end of the morning we saw the emergency services returning from the area with injured people, every ten minutes ten emergency vehicles passed by. I don’t know exactly where they come from, because it is such a large area . It could be 20 to 150 kilometers.”
In daylight it is clearly visible that the damage in Marrakech is extensive. People queue up to donate blood:
It is difficult to get a good idea of the number of victims and damage because some villages have not yet been reached by the emergency services. The epicenter was in the Atlas Mountains near Oukaïmedene, about 80 kilometers south of Marrakech.
Morocco was hit by a strong earthquake with a force 6.8 just after 11 p.m. local time (midnight in the Netherlands). At least 820 people have died. According to the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior, there are also more than 672 injured.
Morocco is hit by earthquakes more often, but usually in the north of the country. This one was more towards the south. “That area is seismically active, but not as active as the north,” says Läslo Evers, earthquake expert at the KNMI.
The Earth consists of several plates that collide with each other, move away from each other and rub against each other. There is a border between two plates between Morocco and Spain. Their fault lines run through the Atlas Mountains.
So far, this earthquake has had one major shock and then a number of smaller aftershocks, says Evers. This is different from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria in February. “After the first shock, a number of large shocks occurred on other fractures. I don’t see that here.”
Heaviest earthquake in 100 years
Nacer Jabour, head of the Moroccan Geological Center, has said the aftershocks are subsiding. They may not even be felt by the population.
“The initial shock was followed by hundreds of aftershocks,” Jabour said. He added that aftershocks tend to diminish the further they get from the seismic fault zone. Jabour previously called the quake “the strongest in 100 years”.
In these videos, residents of Marrakech and Casablanca talk about what they noticed from the earthquake:
The Netherlands is prepared to provide aid to Morocco after the severe earthquake, Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot said. No official request for help has yet been received from the Moroccan government. The USAR rescue team has not yet been called in, but a spokesperson says they are monitoring the situation.
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