Deadly earthquake strikes Morocco's High Atlas Mountains

Deadly earthquake strikes Morocco's High Atlas Mountains

Shafaq News/ A powerful earthquake rocked Morocco's High Atlas mountains late on Friday, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.

According to the Interior Ministry, the initial death toll stands at a tragic 296, with many more injured. Most of the casualties occurred in remote mountainous regions that are difficult to access.

The quake's epicenter was closest to Marrakech, the largest nearby city, and reports have emerged of collapsed buildings in the city's historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Local television images captured the haunting scene of a fallen mosque minaret amidst debris strewn across damaged cars.

In a televised statement, the Interior Ministry called for calm and reported that the earthquake struck several provinces, including Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant.

Montasir Itri, a resident of the mountain village of Asni near the epicenter, described widespread damage to homes in his community. "Our neighbors are trapped beneath the rubble, and the villagers are making valiant efforts to rescue them using the limited resources available," he said.

Further to the west, near Taroudant, teacher Hamid Afkar recounted the terrifying experience. "The earth trembled for approximately 20 seconds. Doors swung open and closed on their own as I hurried downstairs from the second floor," he recalled.

According to Morocco's Geophysical Center, the earthquake struck the Ighil area of the High Atlas with a magnitude of 7.2, while the U.S. Geological Survey measured it at 6.8. The earthquake occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.5 miles).

Ighil, a region characterized by rugged terrain and small farming communities, is approximately 70 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of Marrakech. The quake struck just after 11 p.m. (2200 GMT).

This disaster marks Morocco's deadliest earthquake since a 2004 tremor near Al Hoceima in the northern Rif mountains claimed the lives of over 600 people.

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