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Morocco Earthquake: Why was it one of the most deadliest

Morocco has witnessed one of the most deadliest earthquakes in the country. While the death toll has touched close to 3,000, seismologists and disaster risk-reduction specialists have mentioned the high magnitude and lack of preparedness as reasons for the large impact

Morocco witnesses one of the deadliest earthquakes of this year.

The catastrophic earthquake that struck Morocco on September 8 will be remembered in the history of the country. The natural calamity led to massive destruction and loss of lives in the High Atlas Mountain range, approximately 70 kilometers southwest of Marrakesh.

This tremor, with a magnitude of 6.8, has left more than 2,900 people dead and thousands more injured, with the grim possibility of the death toll rising as rescue and recovery efforts continue. With the rising casualties, the question that arises in the minds of many is: why did this earthquake prove to be one of the deadliest in Morocco's history?

Seismologists and disaster risk-reduction specialists have identified multiple factors that contributed to the high human cost of this natural disaster.

Magnitude of the earthquake

The magnitude of the earthquake, while not exceptionally large compared to some recent seismic events, was unusually significant for Morocco. Rémy Bossu, secretary-general of the Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, described it as "exceptional for the region."

Morocco, situated in a moderately seismically active area due to the ongoing collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, typically experiences smaller tremors. Large-scale earthquakes like this one are infrequent, making it challenging to predict their maximum magnitude.

Lack of Preparedness

The most significant factor contributing to the disaster was a lack of preparedness. According to disaster researcher Ilan Kelman at University College London, "Earthquakes don't kill people; collapsing infrastructure does."

Morocco had the historical evidence and the knowledge that it could experience strong earthquakes, yet most buildings in the affected area were constructed with materials prone to collapse, such as masonry and aggregate. Strengthening these buildings with more resilient materials, like reinforced concrete, might not have been practical given the region's high poverty levels.

Kelman emphasizes the importance of consulting with local communities when making buildings more earthquake-resilient. They possess valuable knowledge about their architecture and specific needs.

Furthermore, he highlights that earthquake resilience should be seen as part of sustainable development. People need the means to afford and maintain essential emergency supplies, and addressing broader societal issues like poverty and lack of education is crucial.