New Delhi: The death toll in the devastating earthquake that struck central Morocco late Friday night rose to over 1,000, news agency AP reported. At least 1,037 people were killed and 1,204 were injured, mostly in Marrakech and five provinces near the quake’s epicentre, Morocco’s Interior Ministry said.
According to reports, the 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Morocco’s High Atlas Mountain range around 11 pm. local time on Friday at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5 km. As per the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicentre was located about 72 km southwest of Marrakech, a city of some 8,40,000 people and a popular tourist spot.
According to AP, Friday’s quake was the biggest to hit Morocco in 120 years. The severity of the tremors toppled several buildings since the walls made from stone and masonry are not designed to withstand these kind of earthquakes.
“The problem is that where destructive earthquakes are rare, buildings are simply not constructed robustly enough to cope with strong ground shaking, so many collapse resulting in high casualties,” AP quoted a professor at University College London as saying.
In the wake of the devastating quake, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI ordered the armed forces to mobilize air and land assets, and specialised search teams to carry out the rescue operations, AP reported.
Of the 1,204 people injured, 721 were in critical condition, Morocco’s Interior Ministry said.
“Earthquakes of this size in the region are uncommon, but not unexpected. Since 1900, there have been no earthquakes over M6 (magnitude 6) and larger, within 500 km of this earthquake epicentre, and only 9 M5 (magnitude 5) earthquakes,” USGS said, a report by CNN stated.
Meanwhile, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces warned the locals to pay close attention to follow-up tremors.
Taking to X (formerly Twitter), the military wrote, “We remind you of the need to exercise caution and take safety measures due to the risk of aftershocks.”
Notably, the old city of Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is also Morocco’s fourth largest city and a major economic centre.
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