What You Need to Know About Morocco's Devastating Earthquake

Death toll is at 2.1K
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 11, 2023 2:26 AM CDT
What You Need to Know About the Devastating Morocco Earthquake
Residents flee their homes after an earthquake in Moulay Brahim village, near the epicenter of the earthquake, outside Marrakech, Morocco, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023.   (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

After a magnitude-6.8 earthquake brought destruction and devastation to Morocco, where death and injury counts continue to rise as rescue crews dig out the alive and dead from the rubble, the AP runs down what you need to know:

  • Who was affected? Of the 2,122 deaths reported as of Sunday evening, 1,351 were in the Al Haouz province of the North African country, a region with a population of more than 570,000, according to Morocco's 2014 census. The epicenter was high in the Atlas Mountains about 44 miles south of Marrakech. The area is largely rural, made up of red-rock mountains, picturesque gorges, and glistening streams and lakes. The earthquake shook most of Morocco and caused injury and death in other provinces, including Marrakech, Taroudant, and Chichaoua.

  • Who is providing aid? Law enforcement and aid workers—both Moroccan and international—have arrived in the hardest-hit region. Residents await food, water, and electricity, and giant boulders now block steep mountain roads. Morocco has deployed ambulances, rescue crews, and soldiers to the region to help assist with emergency response efforts.
  • What about international aid? Aid groups said the government has not made a broad appeal for help and accepted only limited foreign assistance. The Interior Ministry said it was accepting search and rescue-focused international aid from Spain, Qatar, Britain, and the United Arab Emirates, bypassing offers from French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Biden. "We stand ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people," Biden said Sunday on a trip to Vietnam.
  • What damage was done to historic areas? The earthquake cracked and crumbled parts of the walls that surround Marrakech's old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 12th century. Videos showed dust emanating from parts of the Koutoubia Mosque, one of the city's best known historic sites. The city is Morocco's most widely visited destination, known for its palaces, spice markets, tanneries, and Jemaa El Fna, its noisy square full of food vendors and musicians.
  • How rare was this? There had not been any earthquakes stronger than magnitude 6.0 within 310 miles of Friday's tremor in at least a century, according to the US Geological Survey. Northern Morocco experiences earthquakes more often, including tremors of magnitude 6.4 in 2004 and magnitude 6.3 in 2016.
  • What's next? Emergency response efforts are likely to continue as teams traverse mountain roads to reach villages hit hardest by the earthquake. Many communities lack food, water, electricity, and shelter. But once aid crews and soldiers leave, the challenges facing hundreds of thousands who call the area home will likely remain. Members of the Moroccan Parliament are scheduled to convene Monday at the request of King Mohammed VI to create a government fund for earthquake response.
(More Morocco stories.)

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