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Morocco earthquake claims over 2,000 lives, three-day national mourning declared

An earthquake of magnitude 6.8 with an epicentre some 72 km southwest of Marrakech struck Morocco late Friday night, felling buildings including a UNESCO World Heritage site. The earthquake survivors spent the Saturday night in a huddle in the open on the High Atlas Mountains.

Edited By: Ashesh Mallick Rabat (Morocco) Published on: September 10, 2023 7:51 IST
Visual of home that was damaged by earthquake, in Ijjoukak
Image Source : AP Visual of home that was damaged by earthquake, in Ijjoukak village

Morocco’s deadliest earthquake in over six decades claimed more than 2,000 lives and left nearly the same number injured, according to the Interior Ministry.

An earthquake of magnitude 6.8 with an epicentre some 72 km southwest of Marrakech struck Morocco late Friday night, felling buildings including a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The earthquake survivors spent the Saturday night in a huddle in the open on the High Atlas Mountains. 

The historic old city of Marrakech also suffered severe damage and people were kept searching for survivors buried under the debris of fallen structures.

According to the Ministry,  2,012 people were killed and 2,059 injured, including 1,404 who are in critical condition.

In the village of Amizmiz near the epicentre, the search and rescue team picked up the debris with their hands as the fallen masonry blocked the way in to narrow streets. Nearly 10 bodies were seen lying under the blankets outside a hospital as the relatives grieved beside them.

People's accounts

"When I felt the earth shaking beneath my feet and the house leaning, I rushed to get my kids out. But my neighbours couldn’t. Unfortunately no one was found alive in that family. The father and son were found dead and they are still looking for the mother and the daughter,” Mohamed Azaw said.

According to a resident of Asni, Montasir Itri, the search is underway for the survivors.

"Our neighbours are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village," he said.

The tremors of the earthquake were felt as far away as Huelva and Jaen in southern Spain. According to the World Health Organization, over 3,00,000 people had been affected in Marrakech and surrounding areas.

The street camera footage in Marrakech came to the fore which became a witness to the exact moment of the earthquake capturing the painful details. The men were seen looking around and jumping while others ran for shelter in an alleyway and then fled as dust and debris tumbled around them.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, a mosque minaret had fallen in Jemaa al-Fna Square in the heart of the old city.

Some houses in the jam-packed old city had collapsed and the locals used their hands to remove the debris, according to a resident.

Earthquake aftermath

Morocco has declared three days of national mourning during which the national flag will be flow at half-staff in the entire country, according to the royal court on Saturday. It said that the Moroccan armed forces will deploy rescue teams to provide people with clean drinking water, food supplies, tents and blankets in the affected areas.

PM Modi mentions Morocco earthquake in inaugural address at G20 Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (September 9) expressed condolences over the loss of lives in the massive earthquake in Morocco.

"Before we start the proceedings of G20, I want to express my condolences over the loss of lives due to an earthquake in Morocco. We pray that all injured recover at the earliest. India is ready to offer all possible assistance to Morocco in this difficult time," PM Modi said.

 

(With Reuters inputs)

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