NEW YORK (VINnews) — A huge earthquake struck Morocco on Friday night, killing at least 1,300 people and injuring another 672, 206 of them seriously.Join our WhatsApp group
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The powerful earthquake, registering 6.8 on the Richter scale, centered in the mountainous region but damaging buildings from villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakech.
🏚️🌍 An entire village devastated by the #earthquake in Al Haouz. Residents and civil protection are discovering heartbreaking landscapes in the High Atlas. 💔😢 #MoroccoEarthquake #HighAtlas #Support #Morocco #marrakech pic.twitter.com/dv2bs6SWET
— DailyDose (@DDose27191) September 9, 2023
Horrific moment of collapse of a house caught on security camera earthquake at Morocco in the region of Marrakech
— Bot News (@BotNews18) September 9, 2023
The full death toll is not yet known, as rescuers dug through rubble for survivors in collapsed houses in remote mountain villages of Morocco Saturday, in the wake of the country’s deadliest earthquake for more than six decades.
In the village of Amizmiz near the epicenter, rescue workers picked through rubble with their bare hands. Fallen masonry filled narrow streets. Around 10 bodies lay covered in blankets outside a hospital as grieving relatives stood nearby.
Residents of Marrakech, the nearest big city to the epicenter, said some buildings had collapsed in the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and local television showed pictures of a fallen mosque minaret with rubble lying on smashed cars.
Montasir Itri, a resident of the mountain village of Asni near the epicenter, said most houses there were damaged. “Our neighbors are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village,” he said.
Further west, near Taroudant, teacher Hamid Afkar said he had fled his home and felt aftershocks. “The earth shook for about 20 seconds. Doors opened and shut by themselves as I rushed downstairs from the second floor,” he said.
Some 400 Israelis are currently in Marrakech. The Israeli Foreign Ministry located most of them, but 56 are still unaccounted for, with many of them apparently observing Shabbat .
AP reported that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a phone call with his Moroccan counterpart to express Israel’s desire to assist the earthquake-stricken country “as much as is required.” Gallant ordered the Israeli military to prepare to provide Morocco with humanitarian aid.
Israel and Morocco normalized relations in 2020 and have recently moved to deepen their diplomatic and security ties. Moroccan Senate president Enaam Mayara was scheduled to be the first Moroccan official and one of the few Muslim leaders ever to set foot in Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, earlier this week but called off the visit to Israel at the last minute due to a medical emergency.
“A significant part of the Abraham Accords is our commitment to stand by our partners during difficult times,” Gallant said a in statement Saturday, referring to the U.S.-brokered accords that formalized ties between Israel and some Arab nations.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced that Israel will poised to offer humanitarian assistance and is considering sending a rescue team to the country.
He added that office is currently in talks with Moroccan authorities to explore the options for providing humanitarian aid and dispatching a rescue team as needed. The Foreign Ministry added, “We are actively working to establish contact with all Israelis in Morocco to ensure their safety.”
In Marrakech, some houses in the tightly packed old city had collapsed and people were working hard by hand to remove debris while they waited for heavy equipment, said resident Id Waaziz Hassan.
The earthquake is Morocco’s deadliest since a 2004 tremor near Al Hoceima in the northern Rif mountains killed over 600 people.
Spanish television RTVE reported that tremors from the earthquake were felt in Huelva and Jaen in Andalusia, southern Spain.