A magnitude 6.8 earthquake has hit Morocco killing at least 820 people, injuring over 670, damaging ancient buildings, and sending terrified residents fleeing their homes into the streets seeking for safety. The earthquake is the strongest to hit central Morocco in more than a century has left more than 800 people dead, with most of those killed in hard to reach mountainous areas.
The earthquake struck in Morocco’s High Atlas mountain range shortly after 11 p.m. local time at the relatively shallow depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.4 miles), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said, with the epicenter located about 72 kilometers (44.7 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a city of some 840,000 people and a popular tourist destination.
At least 820 people were killed, and 672 others were wounded – including 205 in a critical condition, state-run TV Al Aoula reported, citing Morocco’s Interior Ministry.
Most of the deaths happened in mountain areas close to the epicenter that were hard to reach, authorities said, and rescue teams were having difficulty accessing the worst affected areas after roads were damaged, Al Aoula reported.
The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces cautioned that residents to pay close attention to follow up tremors.
“We remind you of the need to exercise caution and take safety measures due to the risk of aftershocks,” the military wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Many Moroccans spent the night on the streets fearful of aftershocks as a desperate mission to locate those trapped in the rubble got underway. Health authorities also called on people to donate blood to help victims.
The Interior Ministry in a televised statement called for calm saying the quake hit the provinces of Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakesh, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant.
Search teams frantically scoured collapsed buildings for those trapped.