Morocco earthquake: Death toll touches 2,000, people forced to spend sleepless nights

The death toll due to the 6.8 magnitude earthquake, the deadliest calamity experienced by Morocco in recent times, has touched 2000, media reports said.

The earthquake with an epicentre in the High Atlas mountains caused devastation in the historic city of Marrakesh, Morocco. Photo Courtesy: UNESCO Maghreb/Eric Falt

Rescuers are trying desperately to save people who are still trapped under the debris of fallen buildings.

Meanwhile, 1000 people were hurt due to the earthquake which hit the country on Friday.

The death toll is expected to rise.

Marrakesh remained one of the badly hit cities with people spending the second consecutive night on the streets, fearing another tremor may hit the region.

People are staying away from the buildings in the historical part of the town as some of them have been damaged and there is a fear they could collapse, a CNN report said.

Meanwhile, the country's Royal Palace has announced three days of mourning following the quake.

Flags will be flown at half-staff on all public buildings, according to a statement issued by the palace, the American news agency reported.

Morocco's leader King Mohammed VI has even ordered the country's military to conduct search and rescue efforts.

"The September 8, 2023, M 6.8 earthquake near Oukaïmedene, Morocco, occurred due to oblique-reverse faulting at shallow depth within the Moroccan High Atlas Mountain range, roughly 75 km southeast of Marrakech," reported the US Geological Survey website.

This earthquake occurred within the Africa Plate, approximately 550 km south of the plate boundary between the Africa and Eurasia plates. At the location of this earthquake, the African plate moves approximately 24 mm/year WSW relative to the Eurasia plate, read the website.

USGS said earthquakes of this size in the region are uncommon but not unexpected.

"Since 1900, there have been no earthquakes M6 and larger within 500 km of this earthquake, and only 9 M5 and larger earthquakes," read the USGS website.

UN chief reacts:

The UN chief Antonio Guterres has expressed his profound sadness over the deadly earthquake

Guterres expressed his solidarity with the Moroccan government and people of the country.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that the UN was ready to assist the government in any way needed, to help those impacted.

Also Read: Magnitude 6.8 earthquake hits Morocco, 296 dead

According to media reports, several houses in the city of 840,000 collapsed and other buildings suffered structural damage. The epicentral zone is not densely populated.

“The Secretary-General was profoundly saddened to learn of the earthquake that hit Morocco today which claimed many lives,” the statement read.

What did world leaders say?

US President Joe Biden said: "I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake in Morocco. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this terrible hardship."

He said: "We are working expeditiously to ensure American citizens in Morocco are safe, and stand ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people. The United States stands by Morocco and my friend King Mohammed VI at this difficult moment."

UK PM Rishi Sunak said: "My thoughts are with everyone affected by the terrible earthquake in Morocco last night."

"The UK stands ready to support our Moroccan friends," he said.

Indian PM Narendra Modi wrote on X: "Extremely pained by the loss of lives due to an earthquake in Morocco. 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."