Morocco mourns quake victims as death toll climbs to over 2,000 (Ld)
Rabat, Sep 10 (IANS) Morocco has declared three days of national mourning after a devastating earthquake late Friday night claimed the lives of 2,000 people.
Flags will fly at half-mast on all public facilities during the national mourning, according to a statement released by the Royal Office after Moroccan King Mohammed VI chaired a meeting on the disaster, Xinhua news agency reported.
A 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit Morocco Friday at 11:11 p.m. local time at a depth of 18.5 km, said the United States Geological Survey. The epicentre of the earthquake was near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province, some 70 km southwest of Marrakesh.
The quake has claimed the lives of 2,012 people and injured 2,059, with 1,404 of them in serious condition, according to the latest update from the country’s Interior Ministry on Saturday.
Morocco has not experienced a disaster of this magnitude since 2004 when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit the port city of Al Hoceima, killing around 630 people.
The Moroccan state TV said the majority of casualties in the earthquake were from the remote and inaccessible mountainous regions near the epicentre, with damaged roads further hindering rescue efforts.
Rescuers have been sent to the quake-hit areas to search for survivors, local media reported. TV footage showed rescuers digging through rubbles and debris in an effort to save survivors.
The earthquake was felt in many cities across Morocco, including the capital Rabat and Casablanca. Numerous houses collapsed in the cities of Taroudant and Marrakesh, local media reported.
Rows of buildings were levelled to the ground in Imlil, a small village in the High Atlas mountains about 60 km south of Marrakesh, video footage showed.
“There have been earthquakes before, but none of them were as strong as this one,” said a resident who requires anonymity.
On the way from Ouarzazate to the epicentre, rocks and rubbles from the mountains and buildings were seen scattered along the road.