On a fateful Friday night, Morocco experienced a powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake that left the nation in shock and mourning. The earthquake struck at 11:11 p.m. local time, with trembling that lasted for several agonizing seconds. Morocco’s National Seismic Monitoring and Alert Network measured it at 7 on the Richter scale. At the same time, the United States Geological Survey recorded it as a 6.8-magnitude event, followed by a 4.9-magnitude aftershock just 19 minutes later.

The epicentre of this catastrophic quake was nestled in the heart of the High Atlas Mountains, approximately 44 miles southwest of Marrakech. This picturesque city, known for its historic palaces and vibrant culture, bore the brunt of the devastation, with buildings crumbling and ancient walls showing the scars of nature’s fury.

The toll from this tragic event is heart-wrenching, with over 1,000 people confirmed dead and more than 1,200 others injured. The number of injured people is expected to rise as rescue teams navigate blocked roads, debris-strewn pathways, and challenging terrain to reach remote mountain villages, where many are feared trapped under rubble.

The impact of the earthquake extended far beyond Marrakech. Reports of damage poured in from various provinces and municipalities, including Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant. The Moroccan government issued warnings advising residents not to return to their homes due to the possibility of severe aftershocks, forcing many to spend the night outdoors in fear and uncertainty.

In Marrakech, a city that has hosted international events like the United Nations Climate Change Conference, iconic landmarks like the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque and parts of the old city’s UNESCO World Heritage site have suffered significant damage. Videos shared by locals and tourists showed buildings reduced to rubble and the minaret of the historic Kutubiyya mosque shrouded in dust.

The devastation wrought by this earthquake is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of regions unaccustomed to seismic activity. Buildings constructed without the strength to withstand the earthquake have crumbled, resulting in many casualties. Morocco and the world mourn the lives lost and the cultural heritage damaged in this tragic event.