Morocco has been struck by a devastating earthquake, resulting in over 2,000 casualties, making it the deadliest earthquake in the country in decades. The earthquake, measuring 6.8 in magnitude, hit a mountainous region approximately 72 kilometers southwest of Marrakesh late on Friday night. The impact was felt in coastal cities like Rabat, Casablanca, and Essaouira, causing widespread destruction and sending residents and tourists into a state of panic.
Survivors and emergency services have been scrambling to reach remote mountain villages where victims are feared to be trapped. The traditional clay brick buildings used by the Berber inhabitants in villages near the epicenter were unable to withstand the powerful quake, resulting in extensive damage.
Soldiers and emergency responders are engaged in search and rescue efforts, while many survivors are mourning the loss of loved ones. The interior ministry reported that the death toll has risen to at least 2,012, with over 2,000 individuals injured, including 1,404 in critical condition.
The Red Cross has warned that the recovery and rebuilding process may take years due to the scale of the disaster. Morocco has declared three days of national mourning, with flags flying at half-mast on public buildings.
Numerous nations, including Spain and Israel, have offered assistance, and neighboring Algeria has temporarily lifted a ban on Moroccan flights over its airspace to facilitate aid deliveries and medical evacuations.
The devastation has led to a significant outpouring of condolences from foreign leaders, including US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Spain has committed to sending search and rescue teams and other aid to assist with the ongoing emergency response and eventual reconstruction efforts.
This earthquake serves as a somber reminder of the vulnerability of regions unaccustomed to such seismic events, as buildings are often not designed to withstand such powerful quakes. Morocco has experienced significant earthquakes in its history, including the Al Hoceima quake in 2004 and the Agadir quake in 1960.