A powerful earthquake has struck near Marrakech, Morocco, leaving a devastating trail of destruction in its wake. The earthquake, which occurred in the High Atlas mountains, has claimed the lives of over 1,000 people and injured hundreds more. This tragic event is the deadliest earthquake to hit Morocco in over six decades, with reports of collapsed buildings and widespread damage.
The Earthquake and its Impact
The earthquake, measuring a magnitude of 6.8, struck late in the evening, causing significant damage to the region. The epicenter was located approximately 72 kilometers southwest of Marrakech, with tremors felt as far away as southern Spain. The High Atlas mountain range, including remote mountain villages, bore the brunt of the destruction.
Rescue efforts have been underway in the affected areas, with search and rescue teams working tirelessly to find survivors amidst the rubble. However, the challenging terrain and blocked roads have hindered their progress, making it difficult to reach remote villages hit hardest by the earthquake.
Devastation in Amizmiz
In the village of Amizmiz, near the epicenter, residents recount harrowing experiences of the earthquake. Mohamed Azaw, a local resident, managed to save his family, but tragically, his neighbors perished. The rescue workers in Amizmiz are tirelessly sifting through the rubble, hoping to find survivors. The heart-wrenching scene is a stark reminder of the immense toll this earthquake has taken on communities.
Damage in Marrakech
The historic city of Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site, also suffered significant damage from the earthquake. The iconic 12th century Koutoubia Mosque, a symbol of the city’s rich history, was among the structures affected, although the extent of the damage is yet to be fully assessed. Marrakech residents spent the night in the open, fearing aftershocks and the safety of their homes.
Rescue Efforts and International Support
King Mohammed VI has ordered the Royal Armed Forces to provide aid and support to the affected areas. Specialized intervention units, including search and rescue teams, have been deployed to assist in the rescue efforts. The Moroccan Red Crescent has been providing crucial first aid, psychosocial support, and assistance in evacuating people from damaged houses.
The international community has expressed solidarity with Morocco and offered assistance in the wake of this devastating earthquake. Countries like Tunisia and Turkey have pledged support, including emergency aid and search and rescue teams. Algeria, despite its strained relations with Morocco, has opened its airspace to facilitate humanitarian and medical flights.
Historical Context and Vulnerability
Morocco, located between the African and Eurasian plates, experiences frequent earthquakes in its northern region. In 2004, a quake in Al Hoceima claimed the lives of hundreds and injured over 900 people. Additionally, neighboring Algeria has experienced its own devastating earthquakes, such as the 1980 El Asnam earthquake, which resulted in thousands of casualties.
The vulnerability of the region’s buildings to earthquakes is a significant factor contributing to the high casualty rate. Many structures, particularly in rural areas, are not constructed to withstand strong ground shaking. The collapse of these buildings underscores the need for robust construction practices to mitigate the impact of future earthquakes.
Rebuilding and Recovery
As the immediate rescue efforts continue, the focus will soon shift towards rebuilding and recovery. The extensive damage caused by the earthquake will require significant resources and support. The international community, alongside the Moroccan government, will play a crucial role in providing assistance to those affected by the earthquake.
The earthquake near Marrakech, Morocco, has left a devastating aftermath, with over 1,000 lives lost and many more injured. The resilience and strength of the affected communities, coupled with international support, will be instrumental in rebuilding and recovering from this tragedy. As Morocco mourns the loss of loved ones, efforts to improve construction practices and earthquake preparedness will be vital for the future safety of its people.
“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.”– Bill McGuire, Professor Emeritus of Geophysical and Climate Hazards at University College London.