On the 8th of September, Morocco was hit by the strongest earthquake in the country’s history, as a 6.8 magnitude struck the country, near one of the country’s largest cities, Marrakech. At the time of writing, 2946 deaths have been reported, and the World Health Organisation has estimated that approximately 300,000 have been affected, including 100,000 children.
The earthquake struck in the late evening at 23:11, at a relatively shallow depth of 8 kilometres, with an epicentre 73.4km southwest of Marrakech in the Atlas Mountains. Tremors were felt as far away as the coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca and Agadir. Marrakech itself suffered significant damage, and parts of the old city collapsed, including buildings in the Medina of Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The earthquake struck in the late evening [of 8th September] at 23:11, at a relatively shallow depth of 8 kilometres, with an epicenter 73.4km south-west of Marrakech in the Atlas Mountains.
However, the most severe impact was on the remote settlements south of Marrakech, particularly in the Atlas Mountains. The towns of Tafeghaghte, Adassil and Imlil, as well as several villages around Mount Toubkal, either were destroyed or were severely damaged, and in Al-Haouz province, where the epicentre was located, 1684 people were killed.
The most severe impact was on the remote settlements south of Marrakech….the towns of Tafeghaghte, Adassil and Imlil, as well as several villages around Mount Toubkal, were destroyed severely damaged.
The initial emergency response has been hindered by the remoteness of the most affected settlements, as well as the risk of aftershocks. The Red Cross has warned that they expect the death toll to rise, particularly as hopes fade that survivors will be found under the rubble. Meanwhile, treating the injured has become difficult as the country’s hospitals fill up, with nearly 2500 severely injured and requiring treatment.
Initial emergency response has been hindered by the remoteness of the most affected settlements….[and] treating the injured has become difficult as the country’s hospitals fill up with people requiring immediate treatment.
The earthquake striking in the same week as a devastating flood that killed over 11,000 has also raised the prospect of a wave of North African asylum seekers attempting to cross the Mediterranean, and the EU is being urged to act to protect refugees and avoid yet another humanitarian disaster unfolding.