At least 296 people were killed in a massive earthquake that hit Morocco on late Friday (September 8), according to the country’s Interior Ministry.
According to the Ministry, these numbers were a preliminary death count and 153 people had been injured.
Several buildings and historic landmarks in major cities were damaged and numerous others were toppled in the powerful earthquake which, according to Morocco’s geophysical centre, struck in the Ighil area of the High Atlas with a magnitude of 7.2. The U.S. Geological Survey read the quake’s magnitude at 6.8 on Ritcher scale and said it was at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5 km.
Videos of the people screaming were posted by the tourists and others.
The residents of Marrakech, the major city nearest to the epicentre, said that the earthquake felled some buildings in the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site. A local television aired pictures of a fallen mosque with debris spread on crushed cars.
According to a local official, most deaths were reported in the mountainous areas that were hard to reach out to.
According to Pan-Arab al-Arabiya news channel which quoted local sources, five people were killed from one family.
The local Goud.ma news site reported up to 50 people had died, citing unnamed officials.
“The earth shook for about 20 seconds. Doors opened and shut by themselves as I rushed downstairs from the second floor,” said Hamid Afkir, a teacher in a mountainous area west of the epicentre near Taroudant, adding there had been aftershocks.
Ighil, a mountainous area with small farming villages, is about 70 km southwest of Marrakech. The quake struck just after 11 p.m. (2200 GMT).
(With inputs from agencies)