Moroccans on Sunday mourned the victims of a devastating earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people, as rescue teams raced to find survivors trapped in the rubble of flattened villages.
The death toll from a powerful earthquake that hit the country’s Atlas Mountains region late on Friday has risen to 2,122.
The magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck at about 11:11pm (22:11 GMT) at a depth of nearly 26km (16 miles), according to the US Geological Survey. The depth was initially reported at about 18km.
The magnitude 6.8 quake is classified as “strong” on the Richter scale, which measures the strength of earthquakes.
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Authorities have declared three days of national mourning, with many left homeless following the country’s deadliest earthquake in more than 60 years.
However, the Red Cross warned that it could take years to repair the damage.
“It won’t be a matter of a week or two… We are counting on a response that will take months, if not years,” Hossam Elsharkawi, the organisation’s Middle East and North Africa director, said in a statement.
The village of Tafeghaghte, 60 kilometres southwest of Marrakesh, was almost entirely destroyed by the quake, the epicentre of which was only about 50 kilometres away, an AFP team reported, with very few buildings still standing.
“Three of my grandchildren and their mother are dead,” said 72-year-old Omar Benhanna. “They’re still under the debris. It wasn’t so long ago that we were playing together.”
The earthquake’s epicentre was located in Al Haouz province in the High Atlas of the mountains – an area usually not associated with earthquakes – about 75km (44 miles) from Marrakech, Morocco’s fourth largest city Marrakesh’s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is reported to have been badly affected with images emerging of collapsed buildings.
Al Haouz was the hardest-hit province as Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant provinces were also severely affected.
Remote villages have been badly hit by the quake, and rescue teams are facing challenges in reaching them.