A 6.8-magnitude earthquake was reported to have occurred on Friday night around 11:11 PM (2211 GMT) in a hilly region 72 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a popular tourist destination.

Over 1,000 people have died in Morocco’s biggest earthquake in decades, according to officials, who also reported extensive damage and the need for terrified locals and visitors to evacuate for safety in the middle of the night.

The US Geological Survey said that on Friday at 11:11 PM (2211 GMT), a 6.8-magnitude earthquake occurred in a hilly region 72 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of the popular tourist destination Marrakech.

Tremors were also felt in Rabat, Casablanca, and the coastal cities of Essaouira.

Ghano Najam, an 80-year-old Casablanca resident who was in Marrakech when the earthquake struck, stated, “I was almost sleeping when I heard the sound of doors and shutters being pounded.

I panicked and ran outside. I believed I would pass away alone.

This is the fastest earthquake ever recorded in the North African Empire, and an expert has referred to it as the ‘largest earthquake in over 120 years in the region.

Professor Emeritus Bill MacGayer recently declared at the University College London in Britain, “Where damaging earthquakes are rare, structures aren’t constructed with sufficient strength… Due to the several buildings that collapse, a large number of people are killed.

On Saturday, it was revealed through the latest data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs that at least 1,037 people lost their lives in the earthquake, with the majority of the earthquake’s epicenter being in Al-Houz and surrounding regions.

According to the Ministry, 721 additional people suffered injuries, bringing the total to 1,204.

Not only have deaths been reported by the Ministry in the regions of Uarzazate, Chichoua, Azilal, and Yusufiya, but also in Marrakech, Agadir, and Casablanca.

“An engineer named Faisal Badour mentioned that he experienced three earthquakes in his building in Marrakech.”

They claimed, “Screaming and crying was unbearable; there are families who are still sleeping outside because we were very afraid of the power of this earthquake.”

According to AFP reporters, rescuers were looking for survivors amidst the debris of collapsed homes in the Maula Ibrahim village, which is located in the hills of the Al-Houz region close to the earthquake’s epicenter.

The discussion speakers claimed that the locals started creating tombs for the victims on a neighboring hill.

Owner of three traditional riad homes in Marrakech’s old city, 43-year-old Frenchman Michael Bizet told AFP that he was asleep when the earthquake hit.

“I believed that my bed would vanish. I quickly ran out onto the street in my half-naked state and went to the scene of the disturbance. He described it as total mayhem, a calamity, and madness.

A historic city’s minaret crumbling at Jama Al-Fana Square is shown in social media footage.

“An AFP reporter saw that following the earthquake, hundreds of people congregated in the streets out of fear of the aftershocks. Some people covered themselves in blankets, while others slept on the ground.

Mimi Theobald, a 25-year-old tourist from England, claimed that she and her companions were on the roof of a restaurant when the tables started shaking and plates started flying.

Hauda Outsaaf, a local, said she is still in shock after losing her relatives and having her feet swept from beneath her.

“At least 10 members of my family have passed away,” they claimed. I can’t believe it because I just spent less than two days with them.

My wife realized what was going on. She fled and hid beneath the table, and I followed suit because she had a little more experience with earthquakes. I went to turn off the gas as well. Naturally, it was terrifying. The only consoling aspect was that nothing was falling, yet even so, it was utterly confusing.

As soon as we unlocked the front doors, everyone scrambled to leave while yelling and shouting. People hurried outside in whatever clothing they were wearing and flocked to the street; there was chaos everywhere. The discussion then turned to aftershocks.

Officials have, according to the Interior Ministry, “mobilized all necessary resources to intervene and provide assistance in the affected areas.”

The local blood donation center in Marrakech requested blood from locals to help the injured.

The military has reportedly set up a field hospital in Moulai Brahim and sent out “significant human and logistical resources” to aid in the search and rescue operations in Al-Houz, according to the state news agency MPA.

“We heard screams at the time of the tremor,” a resident of Essaouira, 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Marrakesh, told AFP. “Pieces of the building facades have collapsed.”

A “red alert” addressing probable economic losses was issued by the USGS PAGER system, which provides preliminary assessments of earthquake damages, indicating that significant damage is likely.

Foreign leaders, notably Israel, which established normalized relations with Morocco in 2020, have expressed their sympathy and several have pledged support.

In a statement, American President Joe Biden said he was “deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to the official media in Beijing, expressed “profound sorrow for the victims” and hoped that “the Moroccan government and people will be able to recover from this disaster.”

A statement from Pope Francis expressed his “deep solidarity with those who have been affected both in heart and body” by this catastrophe.

Algerian civil security claimed that although a nearby earthquake was felt there as well, no damage or deaths were reported.

A catastrophic earthquake that year notably hit Al Hoceima in Morocco’s eastern area. At least 628 persons lost their lives in this horrific incident, while 926 more were hurt. Similar to this, a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 occurred in Agadir in 1960. More than 12,000 lives were lost as a result of this tragic catastrophe.

A catastrophic earthquake with a Richter scale value of 7.3 struck Algeria in 1980. 2,500 individuals unfortunately perished in this strong tremor, which also left a path of devastation in its wake. Additionally, as a result of this terrible incident, at least 300,000 individuals were homeless. Algeria had a painful time in its history, and the country endured difficult problems in the years that followed.

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