Central Morocco has been struck by a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8, resulting in the loss of around 300 lives, as reported by the country’s interior ministry.
The earthquake’s epicenter was located in the High Atlas Mountains, approximately 71km (44 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, at a depth of 18.5km, according to data from the US Geological Survey.
This seismic event occurred at 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT) and was followed by a 4.9 magnitude aftershock just 19 minutes later.
Tragic fatalities occurred in Marrakesh and various areas to the south, according to the ministry.
The official statement issued by the ministry stated, “According to a preliminary report, the earthquake claimed the lives of 296 individuals in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant.” The statement also indicated that 153 individuals were injured and hospitalized.
Unverified video footage circulating on social media platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), depicts damaged buildings, trembling structures, and streets littered with debris. These harrowing clips show people fleeing in distress and others navigating through clouds of dust.
Reports from Marrakesh, a city renowned for its historic old quarter, indicate that certain buildings have collapsed. Locals have chosen to remain outdoors as a precaution against potential powerful aftershocks that could further affect the city.
Residents have described the experience as a “violent tremor,” with buildings visibly shifting. Panic and shock have gripped the community, and children were heard crying while parents were left distraught.
During the earthquake, power and phone lines were disrupted for about ten minutes. media reports said that a family was trapped beneath the debris of a collapsed house, and numerous individuals in the city required hospitalization.
The earthquake’s epicenter was in a remote area of the High Atlas Mountains, and the relatively shallow depth of the event meant that tremors were felt as far away as the capital, Rabat, located 350km from the epicenter, as well as in Casablanca and Essaouira.
Given the remoteness of the mountain villages near the epicenter, it may take some time to assess the full extent of damage and casualties in those areas.