A devastating earthquake in Morocco claimed the lives of over 600 individuals, according to officials who made the announcement on Saturday. The quake, with a magnitude of 6.8, struck a mountainous region located 72 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of the popular tourist destination Marrakesh at 11:11 pm (2211 GMT) on Friday, as reported by the US Geological Survey. Strong tremors were also felt in coastal cities such as Rabat, Casablanca, and Essaouira,Daily Trust reports.

Moroccan media reports indicated that this earthquake was the most powerful ever recorded in the country.

Abdelhak El Amrani, aged 33, recounted his experience during the quake, stating, “We felt a very violent tremor, and I realized it was an earthquake. I could see buildings moving.” Amrani joined numerous others who rushed outside, all gripped by shock and panic. “The children were crying, and the parents were distraught,” he added. “The power went out for 10 minutes, and so did the (telephone) network, but then it came back on. Everyone decided to stay outside.”

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Updated figures from the interior ministry on Saturday indicated that the earthquake had claimed the lives of 632 individuals, with over half of the casualties occurring in Al-Haouz and Taroudant provinces. The ministry also reported deaths in Ouarzazate, Chichaoua, Azilal, Youssoufia provinces, as well as in Marrakesh, Agadir, and the Casablanca area. Additionally, 329 people were injured, including 51 in critical condition, according to the ministry.

Faisal Baddour, an engineer, described feeling the earthquake three times within his building. “There are families who are still sleeping outside because we were so scared of the force of this earthquake,” he said. “It was as if a train was passing close to our houses.”

Michael Bizet, a Frenchman who owns three traditional riad houses in Marrakesh’s old town, was in bed when the quake struck. He remarked, “I thought my bed was going to fly away. I went out into the street half-naked and immediately went to see my riads. It was total chaos, a real catastrophe, madness.” Bizet shared video footage showing piles of rubble from collapsed walls in the streets. Social media posts displayed a minaret partially collapsed on Jemaa el-Fna square in the historic city.

AFP correspondents observed hundreds of people gathering in the square to spend the night due to fears of aftershocks. Some individuals had blankets, while others slept on the ground.

Houda Outassaf, a local resident, described feeling the ground shake while he was walking around the square. “It was a truly staggering sensation. We’re safe and sound, but I’m still in shock,” he said. “I have at least 10 members of my family who died… I can hardly believe it, as I was with them no more than two days ago.”

Fayssal Badour, another resident of Marrakesh, shared his experience when the earthquake struck while he was driving. “I stopped and realized what a disaster it was… The screaming and crying was unbearable,” he said.

The interior ministry stated that authorities have mobilized all necessary resources to intervene and assist the affected areas. The regional blood transfusion center in Marrakesh appealed to residents to donate blood for the injured.

In the town of Al-Haouz, near the quake’s epicenter, local media reported that a family was trapped in the rubble after their house collapsed.

The earthquake was also felt in neighboring Algeria, where the Algerian Civil Defense reported that it had not caused any damage or casualties.

In 2004, a quake in northeastern Morocco’s Al Hoceima claimed the lives of at least 628 people and injured 926. In 1960, a magnitude 6.7 quake in Agadir killed more than 12,000 individuals. Additionally, the 7.3-magnitude El Asnam earthquake in neighboring Algeria in 1980 resulted in 2,500 deaths and left at least 300,000 people homeless.


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