Rescue workers are searching through debris in isolated mountainous locations for casualties after the deadliest earthquake in decades rocked central Morocco, killing more than 1,000 people.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Morocco’s High Atlas mountain range on Friday just after 11 p.m. local time at a depth of 18.5 kilometres (11.4 miles), which is relatively shallow. The epicentre was located about 72 kilometres (44.7 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a city of about 840,000 people and a well-liked tourist destination.
Although earthquakes in the area are “uncommon but not unexpected,” there hasn’t been one of this size in the neighbourhood in more than 120 years. The earthquake that struck on Friday night was only 18.5 kilometres (11.5 miles) deep. According to the USGS, the earthquake was caused by “oblique-reverse faulting” in the Atlas Mountains.
If we think back, just couple months ago an Earthquake of 7.8 magnitude destroyed entire regions and killed more than 35 000 people in Turkey. A grim reminder on what could happen when nature releases it destructive powers.
According the Associated Press, the Moroccan military dispatched planes, helicopters, and drones, and emergency services activated aid efforts to the areas affected by damages. However, roads leading to the mountain region surrounding the epicentre were congested with vehicles and slowed down rescue operations due to blocked roads caused by crumbled rocks. According to the government news agency MAP, trucks stocked with blankets, camp cots, and lighting supplies were attempting to reach that severely affected area.
Death toll could very likely rise in the next couple of hours or days as rescue efforts and search for survivors continues. Because this region is not known for earthquakes or at least not known for 6.8 magnitude earthquakes, many buildings were not constructed to withstand this size of destruction. Buildings just crumbled during or very shortly after the main tremor.
As condolences flowed in from nations throughout Europe, the Middle East, and a Group of 20 summit in India, world leaders volunteered to send relief or rescue workers. One of those offering assistance was Turkey’s president, whose nation lost tens of thousands of citizens in a devastating earthquake earlier this year. With sizable populations of people with Moroccan ancestry, France and Germany also provided assistance, while the presidents of both Russia and Ukraine reaffirmed their support for Moroccans.