At least 2,012 people died in an earthquake in Morocco late on Friday evening, authorities said. The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.8 and caused much destruction. According to the US National Geological Survey (USGS), it was the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the country. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are no Poles among the victims.
The death toll is rising as a result of the earthquake that struck late Friday evening Morocco. As reported by Reuters on the night from Saturday to Sunday, citing local news Ministry of the Interior, at least 2,012 people died. 2,059 people were injured – 1,404 were in critical condition.
Previously, it was reported that 1,305 were killed and 1,832 injured, of which 1,220 were in critical condition.
Most of the people died in hard-to-reach mountainous areas, a local authority official said, quoted by Reuters. In turn, the Associated Press writes that the most fatalities were recorded in Marrakesh and five provinces near the epicenter of the earthquake.
Many buildings were destroyed both in mountain villages and in historic Marrakesh. Some people spent the night in the open air.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are no Poles among the dead and wounded.
Relief efforts are being slowed by roads leading to the mountain region being blocked by lots of cars and fallen rocks.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco announced three days of national mourning. Condolences and offers of help are pouring in from around the world.
“Everybody was in shock and panic”
– We felt a violent shaking and I realized it was an earthquake – said Abdelhak El Amran, a resident of Marrakech, in an interview with AFP. – I went outside and there were a lot of people there. Everyone was in shock and panic. The children were crying and the parents were distraught, he reported.
As told by a citizen France Michael Bizet, owner of three properties in Marrakech’s old town, “thought my bed was going to fly off. I went out into the street half-naked.” – It was total chaos, a real disaster, madness – he added.
British journalist Marin Jay, who lives in Morocco, reported that he was woken up by his wife’s scream. – I couldn’t imagine being in the middle of an earthquake. Everything was vibrating: the bed, the floor, the walls – he said on BBC Radio 4.
“Some houses collapsed in the old town, and people, waiting for heavy equipment, tried to remove the rubble with their own hands,” said Marrakech resident Id Waaziz Hassan, quoted by the media in the first hours after the disaster.
Residents of Marrakesh reported that some buildings collapsed in the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Reuters reported.
Reuters reported that one of the footage shows large cracks in the city’s medieval walls and collapsed buildings in one part of the city. Local television showed photos of the collapsed minaret of the mosque. Videos shared on social media, which Reuters could not immediately verify, showed people running in fear from malls, restaurants and apartment buildings.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded in Morocco
The National Center for Scientific and Technical Research (CNRST), based in Rabat, said the earthquake struck at 11:11 p.m. local time, with an initial magnitude of 7.2, later revised to 6.8. The epicenter of the quake was about 71 km southwest of Marrakesh at a depth of 18.5 km, the US National Geological Survey (USSG) reported. 19 minutes later, aftershocks with a magnitude of 4.9 occurred.
USGS experts quoted by CNN said it was the strongest earthquake recorded in the country in at least 100 years.
“Earthquakes of this magnitude in this region are rare but not unexpected. Since 1900, no earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater have occurred within 500 kilometers of this earthquake and only nine earthquakes of magnitude 5 or greater have been recorded,” the USGS said .
The government appealed to residents who managed to escape the disaster unscathed to support the victims by donating blood.
Authorities warned that more tremors could still occur in the region. “We remind you to be careful and take safety measures due to the risk of aftershocks,” it said via social media.
The Polish Red Cross announced a collection
On Saturday, the Polish Red Cross announced a collection for victims of the earthquake. The organization is prepared to send material aid and qualified rescuers to Morocco.
“Rescuers provide first aid to those dug out of the rubble. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, together with its emergency response center DREF, are ready to send the necessary materials” – said the Polish Red Cross.
“The Polish Red Cross is prepared to send in-kind aid and qualified rescuers to Morocco,” said Michał Mikołajczyk, member of the PCK main board.
“For now, there is no information about specific needs,” the organization said. As stated in the communiqué, “we can expect great needs in terms of finding temporary shelter, emergency access to water and sanitary facilities, issuing parcels with food and NFI (non-food aid), and in the further phase of housing reconstruction”. It was added that “we may also observe greater internal migration of the country, as was the case in Turkey“. The Polish Red Cross has announced a collection in connection with the earthquake. Donations with the note “To help Morocco” can be sent to the following account: 13 1160 2202 0000 0000 2987 3563.
PAP, Reuters, USGS, CNN, BBC
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/JALAL MORCHIDI