Morocco, a nation known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, has been struck by tragedy as it grapples with the aftermath of its deadliest earthquake in decades. On the night of September 9, 2023, at precisely 11:11 pm (2211 GMT), a powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked a mountainous region just 72 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of the popular tourist destination, Marrakesh. The quake’s epicenter was in Al-Haouz province, sending shockwaves felt as far as the coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca, and Essaouira.
This seismic event, the most powerful ever recorded in Morocco, has claimed the lives of over 1,000 people, according to the latest figures from the interior ministry. The majority of the casualties occurred in Al-Haouz, the epicenter, and Taroudant provinces. In addition to the tragic loss of life, 1,204 people have been reported injured, with 721 in critical condition.
Rescue efforts are underway, with brave individuals working tirelessly to find survivors amidst the rubble of collapsed houses. In the mountain village of Moulay Brahim, near the epicenter, residents are digging graves for the victims, a heartbreaking testament to the scale of the disaster.
Faisal Badour, an engineer in Marrakesh, shared his experience of the earthquake’s terrifying force. “There are families who are still sleeping outside because we were so scared of the force of this earthquake. The screaming and crying was unbearable,” he said.
The impact of the earthquake extended beyond the loss of life and injuries. Marrakesh’s historic Jemaa el-Fna square saw part of a minaret collapse, and people flocked to the square, fearing aftershocks. Tourists like Mimi Theobold, a visitor from England, described the moment when the quake struck as tables shook and plates flew.
Foreign leaders have expressed their condolences and offered assistance, including Israel, with which Morocco normalized relations in 2020. US President Joe Biden, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and Pope Francis all conveyed their sympathies to the Moroccan people during this difficult time.
This earthquake serves as a grim reminder of the region’s vulnerability to seismic activity. In 2004, another deadly quake struck northeastern Morocco, claiming hundreds of lives, and in 1960, Agadir was devastated by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake, resulting in over 12,000 fatalities. Neighboring Algeria also felt the tremors, but fortunately, no damage or casualties were reported there.
As Morocco grapples with this tragedy, its people unite in their resilience, determination, and the hope of rebuilding their lives in the face of immense loss and destruction. The international community stands in solidarity with Morocco during this challenging period, offering support and condolences to a nation reeling from the effects of nature’s relentless power.
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