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Powerful earthquake rocks Morocco, hundreds killed

September 9, 2023

The quake damaged buildings in major cities and sent panicked people pouring into streets and alleyways from the capital, Rabat, to Marrakech, the country's most-visited tourist destination.

People gather on a street in Casablanca, following a powerful earthquake in Morocco
Videos circulating on social media showed buildings collapsing and tourists evacuating restaurantsImage: Abdelhak Balhaki/REUTERS

A powerful earthquake struck Morocco on Friday night killing at least 296 people, the country's Interior Ministry said adding that 153 people injured in the quake were getting treatment at hospitals. 

"According to a provisional report, the earthquake killed 296 people in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant," the ministry said in a statement.

For the latest developments on the earthquake in Morocco as rescue efforts continue, head to DW's live blog

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 when it hit at 11:11 p.m. (2211 GMT), according to the US Geological Survey. Many buildings were destroyed and power supply was disrupted.

View of rubble from the earthquake in Marrakech
The quake damaged many buildings in Marrakech and other citiesImage: Al Oula TV via REUTERS

The Interior Ministry said that the destruction was the highest in areas outside of cities and towns.

The earthquake's epicenter was high in the Atlas Mountains roughly 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) south of Marrakech.

The tremors of the quake were also felt in the coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca and Essaouira.

Sustainable housing for Morocco

What's the damage in Marrakech?

Videos circulating on social media showed buildings collapsing and tourists evacuating restaurants. Marrakech was the closest major city to the epicenter where a UNESCO world heritage site and some other buildings were damaged.

Footage of the medieval city wall showed big cracks in one section and parts that had fallen, with rubble lying on the street.

USGS said that "the population in this region lives in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking."

Many people, including women and children, stayed out in the streets during the night and did not return to concrete buildings as they were worried about aftershocks and other reverberations that could cause their homes to sway.

According to local media, the earthquake was the strongest to ever hit the country.

Catching fog in Morocco

mf/sri (AFP, Reuters, AP)