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Morocco: Powerful Earthquake Near Marrakesh Claims at Least 820 Lives

Photo: Abdelhak Senna / AFP

A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Morocco late on Friday, leaving a devastating trail of destruction. At least 820 people have tragically lost their lives, with more than 672 reported injuries. The epicenter of the earthquake is believed to be in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains.

The earthquake, which occurred at 11:11 pm local time (2211 GMT), was felt as far away as Spain and Portugal. While Morocco’s geophysical center initially reported a magnitude of 7.2 for the quake, the US Geological Survey later confirmed it as 6.8, noting that it struck at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.5 miles).

The quake’s epicenter was located 44 miles (71 kilometers) southwest of the popular tourist destination Marrakesh. Hospitals in Marrakesh have been inundated with an overwhelming number of injured individuals seeking medical attention.

Local media reports suggest that this earthquake is the most powerful to have ever struck Morocco. Its impact was also felt in neighboring Algeria, although authorities there have confirmed no significant damage or casualties.

Residents of Marrakesh, the closest major city to the earthquake’s center, reported that some structures in the historic old city, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, suffered damage, including collapsed buildings. Local television broadcasts featured scenes of a mosque minaret that had fallen, with debris strewn over damaged vehicles.

The Interior Ministry issued a call for calm through a televised announcement, indicating that the earthquake affected several provinces, including Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakesh, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant.

The seismic event occurred shortly after 11 pm local time (22:00 GMT) on Friday evening, as reported by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). According to the USGS, the epicenter was located in the Atlas Mountains, approximately 75 kilometers (44 miles) away from Marrakesh, which is the country’s fourth-largest city.

Rescue teams worked fervently to search for individuals who might have been trapped under the rubble of collapsed structures.

“The Royal Armed Forces, local authorities, security services and civil protection … continue to mobilise and harness all means and capabilities in order to intervene,

The Indian Embassy in Morocco has extended its support to the affected individuals. They have urged all Indian nationals in the earthquake-hit region to reach out to their helpline at +212661297491 for any necessary assistance.

In an official statement, the Indian Embassy expressed its deep sympathy for the victims of the earthquake, adding, “India stands ready to extend assistance to Morocco in this difficult time.”

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