Moroccan Earthquake Tragedy Claims 296 Lives, Indian Prime Minister Modi Expresses Sympathy
In a devastating turn of events, Morocco was struck by a powerful earthquake registering at a magnitude of 6.8 on Friday night, resulting in the loss of at least 296 lives, according to the country’s interior ministry. The catastrophe unfolded with seismic force, reducing buildings to rubble, and causing significant damage to the iconic red walls surrounding the historic Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The affected regions included al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant, where 296 individuals tragically lost their lives, while another 153 were injured and subsequently hospitalized.
The earthquake unfolded dramatically, with tourists and locals alike capturing the chaos on video. Videos circulated widely, depicting people screaming and hastily evacuating restaurants while pulsating club music played in the background.
Key Updates on the Morocco Earthquake:
- The US Geological Survey initially reported the earthquake’s magnitude as 6.8 when it struck at 11:11 pm, with several seconds of intense shaking. Morocco’s National Seismic Monitoring and Alert Network, however, measured it at a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale. Additionally, a magnitude-4.9 aftershock struck just 19 minutes later, further adding to the distress.
- The earthquake caused extensive damage to buildings in major cities, prompting panicked evacuations in the streets and alleyways of cities ranging from the capital, Rabat, to the popular tourist destination of Marrakech.
- The epicenter of the earthquake was situated high in the Atlas Mountains, approximately 70 kilometers south of Marrakech. This area is also home to Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak, and Oukaimeden, a well-known Moroccan ski resort. The US Geological Survey reported the epicenter’s depth as 18 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, while Morocco’s seismic agency estimated it to be at 8 kilometers.
- The impact of the earthquake was felt far beyond Morocco’s borders, reaching as far as Portugal and Algeria. Both the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria’s Civil Defense agency, responsible for emergency response, reported tremors in their respective regions.
- Expressing his condolences, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his deep sorrow for the lives lost in the Moroccan earthquake. He took to social media, writing, “In this tragic hour, my thoughts are with the people of Morocco. Condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest. India is ready to offer all possible assistance to Morocco in this difficult time.”
- While variations in initial measurements are common, this earthquake is considered one of the most powerful to hit Morocco in recent years. Earthquakes are relatively uncommon in North Africa, with the last significant tremor being a magnitude 5.8 event near Agadir in 1960, which tragically claimed thousands of lives.