Nearly 300 people killed as powerful earthquake hits Morocco
A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake has struck Morocco, killing at least 296 people and injuring 153 others.
The quake struck at 44 miles (71 kilometers) southwest of Marrakesh at a depth of 18.5 kilometers at 11:11 pm (2211 GMT) Friday, the US Geological Survey said. The quake's epicenter was in a remote area of the High Atlas Mountains.
"According to a provisional report, the earthquake killed 296 people in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant," Morocco’s Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry further noted that authorities have "mobilized all the necessary resources to intervene and help the affected areas".
The quake reportedly caused widespread panic and damaged buildings across cities.
Terrified residents of Marrakesh reported "unbearable" screams following the tremor, with hospitals in the city reportedly seeing a "massive influx" of injured people.
"We felt a very violent tremor, and I realized it was an earthquake," Abdelhak El Amrani, a Marrakesh resident told AFP.
"I could see buildings moving,” he said, adding that power and phone lines were down for ten minutes.
“People were all in shock and panic. The children were crying and the parents were distraught."
Fayssal Badour, another Marrakesh resident, told AFP that he was driving when the earthquake hit.
"I stopped and realized what a disaster it was. It was very serious, as if a river had burst its banks. The screaming and crying was unbearable," he said.
According to local media, a family was trapped in the rubble after their house collapsed in the town of Al-Haouz, near the epicenter of the quake.
Tremors were also reportedly felt in the capital Rabat, as well as the coastal cities of Casablanca and Essaouira.
The earthquake was also felt in neighboring Algeria, where the Algerian Civil Defense said it had not caused any damage or casualties.