Dozens Killed in Morocco Minaret Collapse

At least 38 dead after 400-year-old structure falls
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2010 9:35 PM CST
This minaret in Meknes, central Morocco, collapsed during Friday prayers at a crowded mosque yesterday.   (AP Photo/Abedljalil Bounhar, File)
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(Newser) – At least 38 people were killed when the minaret of a 400-year-old mosque in Morocco collapsed during Friday prayers yesterday. Officials say heavy rain weakened the structure in the historic city of Meknes. Over 70 people were injured in the collapse and the rescue operation has been slowed by the narrow streets in the old quarter where the mosque is located.

"We are using only manpower, not equipment as we cannot bring heavy equipment through these streets," a civil defense commander told Reuters. "We are moving with great cautiousness also because the walls of houses and shops adjacent to the mosque are fragile, especially after the heavy rains of the past days." Morocco's King Mohammed VI has sent government ministers to the scene and pledged to rebuild the minaret.

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