Following Powerful 6.8 Earthquake In Morocco Over 2,000 Dead

 September 10, 2023

Late Friday night, according the Associated Press, a rare, powerful earthquake struck Morocco, killing more than1,000 people and damaging buildings from villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakech. As rescuers struggled to get through boulder-strewn roads to the remote mountain villages hit hardest, the full toll is yet to be determined.

Awakened by the magnitude-6.8 quake, people ran into the streets in terror and disbelief. Reportedly, a woman described fleeing her house after an “intense vibration.’’ A man visiting a nearby apartment said dishes and wall hangings began raining down, with people knocked off their feet and chairs. Another man reportedly said he was jarred awake in bed by the shaking.

Afraid to go back inside buildings that might still be unstable, state television showed people clustered in the streets of Marrakech. Many wrapped themselves in blankets as they tried to sleep outside. Toppling buildings and walls in ancient cities made from stone and masonry, not designed to withstand quakes, it was the biggest to hit Morocco in 120 years.

According to Bill McGuire, professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London -

“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,”… “I would expect the final death toll to climb into the thousands once more is known. As with any big quake, aftershocks are likely, which will lead to further casualties and hinder search and rescue.”

-Bill McGuire, Professor Geophysical & Climate Hazards, University College London

In a statement from the military, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has ordered the armed forces to mobilize air and land assets, specialized search / rescue teams and surgical field hospitals are to be set up. But despite the outpouring of offers of help, from around the world, the Moroccan government had not formally asked for assistance. This is a necessary step required before outside rescue crews could deploy to assist.

Reportedly, at least 1,037 people died, mostly in Marrakech and five provinces near the quake’s epicenter, and another 1,204 people were injured. Saturday morning, Morocco’s Interior Ministry reported that of the injured, 721 were in critical condition. In fact, rescuers worked through the night, searching for survivors in the darkness, rubble and dust.

Ayoub Toudite, a resident of the tiny village of Moulay Brahim said –

“We felt a huge shake like it was doomsday.”…“We found casualties and people running and kids crying,” …“We never saw anything like this, 20 deaths in the area, 30 injuries.”

Ayoub Toudite

Reportedly, the U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 when it hit at 11:11 p.m. (2211 GMT), with shaking that lasted several seconds. The agency also reported a magnitude 4.9 aftershock, that hit 19 minutes later. According to the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria’s Civil Defense agency, which oversees emergency response, Friday’s quake was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria.

As the tragic loss of life unfolds, and those trapped or lost are found, the world prays for the earthquake victims and residents of Morocco. Aid to that country is apparently pending but has been offered by many nations.

“Whether it is a tsunami, or whether it is a hurricane, whether it's an earthquake - when we see these great fatal and natural acts, men and women of every ethnic persuasion come together and they just want to help.”

-Martin Luther King III
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