Over 2,000 people have died following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco’s High Atlas mountains late on Friday night.
The earthquake hit just after 23:00 local time and measured 6.8 magnitude according to the US Geological Survey, categorizing it as a strong earthquake event. Approximately 100 such earthquakes occur globally every year, but the relatively shallow depth of Friday’s quake, at 18.5 kilometers (11.5 miles), has made it particularly devastating.
State television has reported significant building collapse and residents forced to evacuate their homes onto the streets, including in the nearby capital city of Marrakesh, according to Reuters, around 72 kilometers (45 miles) from the epicenter. This included the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the old city, where the minaret of a mosque in Jemaa al-Fna Square fell.
The Moroccan interior ministry has confirmed that at least 2,012 people have died and 2,059 injured as a result of the earthquake, with a further 1,404 of those injured in critical condition. Many of those affected are in remote mountainous areas, with some cut off entirely by rubble, making rescue efforts difficult.
Last night’s quake is the deadliest to strike Morocco since 2004, when a 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurred in the northern coastal city of Al Hoceima, killing over 600 people. The north of the country, including the High Atlas mountains, lies close to the boundary between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, making it prone to seismic activity.
The article will be updated if new information becomes available.