Morocco’s biggest earthquake in over 120 years struck south of Marrakesh on Friday night, killing almost 300 people and leaving over 150 injured.
Footage shared on social media showed a massive cloud of dust rising in Marrakesh – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hugely popular tourist town – as a building crashed down, with terrified tourists running away.
Some clips showed people trying to rescue someone trapped in the rubble, equipped with only flashlights and their bare hands. Others showed dazed-looking Moroccans weeping, with blood pouring from their heads.
Marrakesh’s hospitals saw a ‘massive influx’ of injured people, AFP reported.
The earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, causing tremors as far away as Portugal.
Morocco’s Interior Ministry said that at least 296 people had died in the provinces near the quake, with another 153 injured. The epicenter was 40 miles south of the popular tourist city.
At least 296 people are known to have died, with more than 150 more injured
Moroccans use flashlights to try and see where a person is trapped on Friday night
A dazed and bloodied man stands outside the rubble of a building
At least 296 people have died in Morocco near the quake with another 153 injured
A car in Marrakech is crushed by fallen debris on Friday night
The ministry wrote that most damage occurred outside of cities and towns, and the United States Geological Survey warned that the death toll was likely to rise significantly, because rural buildings were not built to sustain such earthquakes.
Moroccans posted videos showing buildings reduced to rubble and dust, and parts of the famous red walls that surround the old city in Marrakesh damaged.
Tourists and others posted videos of people screaming and evacuating restaurants in the city as throbbing club music played.
Reports on damage and any casualties often take time to filter in after many earthquakes, particularly those that hit in the middle of the night.
Rather than return to concrete buildings, men, women and children stayed out in the streets worried about aftershocks and other reverberations that could cause their homes to sway.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 when it hit just after 10pm, with shaking that lasted several seconds.
Morocco’s National Seismic Monitoring and Alert Network measured it at 7 on the Richter scale.
The U.S. agency reported a magnitude-4.9 aftershock hit 19 minutes later.
Variations in early measurements are common, although either reading would be Morocco’s strongest in years.
Residents of Ouarzazate, in the Atlas Mountains, are pictured in the streets after the earthquake on Friday night
Rescue workers survey the rubble in Marrakech on Friday night
Tourists and others posted videos of people screaming and evacuating restaurants in the city as throbbing club music played
Though earthquakes are relatively rare in North Africa, a magnitude 5.8 tremor struck near Agadir and caused thousands of deaths in 1960.
‘Earthquakes of this size in the region are uncommon, but not unexpected,’ said the USGS.
‘Since 1900, there have been no earthquakes M6 (magnitude 6) and larger within 500 km of this earthquake, and only 9 M5 (magnitude 5) and larger earthquakes.’
The USGS predicted that ‘significant damage is likely and the disaster is potentially widespread’, noting that many people in the area reside in structures that are ‘highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking’.
The epicenter of Friday’s tremor was high in the Atlas Mountains roughly 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) south of Marrakesh. It was also near Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa and Oukaimeden, a popular Moroccan ski resort.
The USGS said the epicenter was 18 kilometers (11 miles) below the Earth’s surface, while Morocco’s seismic agency put it at 8 kilometers (5 miles) down.
The quake was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria, according to the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria’s Civil Defense agency, which oversees emergency response.
Moroccans posted videos showing buildings reduced to rubble and dust after the earthquake
People are seen in Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco, in the aftermath of the quake
Locals in Casablanca are seen on Friday night outdoors, for fear of aftershocks
People gather on a street in Casablanca, following a powerful earthquake in Morocco
A man is seen trying to rescue someone from the rubble on Friday night in Morocco
Dramatic footage shared on TikTok showed tourists in Marrakesh in the aftermath of the earthquake, with the dust from the buildings rising behind them
Panicked young women are seen trying to get away from the collapsing buildings
‘We felt a very violent tremor, and I realized it was an earthquake,’ said Abdelhak El Amrani, a 33-year-old in Marrakesh, speaking to AFP by telephone.
‘I could see buildings moving. We don’t necessarily have the reflexes for this type of situation.
‘Then I went outside and there were a lot of people there. People were all in shock and panic. The children were crying and the parents were distraught.’
He said the power and telephone networks went out for 10 minutes, but then returned.
He said everyone was staying in the open air, for fear of aftershocks.
Fayssal Badour, another Marrakesh resident, told AFP he was driving when the earthquake hit.
‘I stopped and realized what a disaster it was. It was very serious, as if a river had burst its banks. The screaming and crying was unbearable,’ he said.
Hospitals in Marrakesh reportedly saw a ‘massive influx’ of injured people.
In the town of Al-Haouz, near the epicenter of the quake, a family was trapped in the rubble after their house collapsed, local media reported.
The earthquake was also felt in the coastal cities of Rabat, the capital; in Casablanca, the largest city in the country, and the tourist surfer town of Essaouira.
‘There’s not too much damage, more panic,’ said one Essaouira resident.
‘We heard screams at the time of the tremor.
‘People are in the squares, in the cafes, preferring to sleep outside. Pieces of facades have fallen.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk