Morocco earthquake death toll crosses 2,000

As death toll rises, Morocco's royal palace declares three days of mourning, orders shelter, food and other help for survivors

Buildings destroyed by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on 9 September (photo: Getty Images)
Buildings destroyed by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on 9 September (photo: Getty Images)


The death toll from a strong earthquake that struck Morocco on the night of Friday, 8 September has crossed 2,000, according to the country's interior ministry. "There is destruction everywhere," eyewitnesses near the Atlas mountains were quoted as saying by CNN.

According to USGS, the tremor was the deadliest to hit the North African country in decades.

The quake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, hit Morocco's High Atlas mountain range on Friday, 8 September at 11:11 pm local time, at a depth of 18.5 km.

The earthquake was felt in many cities across Morocco, including Rabat and Casablanca. Many houses collapsed in the cities of Taroudant and Marrakesh, local media reported.

Xinhua correspondents at Ouarzazate, about 190 km southeast of Marrakesh, saw residents taking shelter in an open space after the earthquake.

"There have been earthquakes before, but none of them were as strong as this one," said a resident in Ouarzazate, who requested anonymity.

The earthquake damaged many buildings in the old city of Marrakesh, the nearest major city to the epicentre, and hundreds of residents chose to spend the night in the open for fear of potential aftershocks, said Zhang Kai, an overseas Chinese living in Marrakesh.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz released a statement on Saturday, 9 September, sending "heartfelt condolences for lives lost".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with other global leaders including US president Joe Biden, Chinese president Xi Jinping, and French PM Emanuel Macron, also extended their condolences to Morocco.

Morocco's royal palace declared three days of mourning on Saturday. "Three days of national mourning have been decided, with flags to fly at half-mast on all public buildings," said a statement published by the official MAP news agency.

King Mohammed VI chaired a meeting to discuss the disaster, where he called for "accommodation, food and all other basic needs" to be made available to those who needed it — particularly "orphans and the vulnerable.''

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