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WATCH: “Nothing’s safe” – Thousands dead in Morocco earthquake

A strong earthquake of magnitude 6.8 has struck central Morocco, killing more than 2,000 people and causing severe damage in several areas.

Residents rushed into the streets when the quake struck at 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT) on Friday.

“Violent” tremors were felt in several areas of the country from Casablanca to Marrakesh, where many buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged.

The country’s royal palace has declared three days of national mourning.

It also said the armed forces would deploy rescue teams to provide affected areas with clean drinking water, food supplies, tents and blankets.

Many of the victims are believed to be in hard-to-reach mountain areas.

The epicentre was in the High Atlas Mountains, 71km (44 miles) south-west of Marrakesh.

Many people are still believed to be under the rubble and rescue efforts are under way. Several bodies have already been recovered.

Hospitals in Marrakesh have seen an influx of injured people, and the authorities have called on residents to donate blood.

British tourist describes the moment earthquake hit:

Morocco’s interior ministry said the earthquake killed people in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant, adding that more than 1,200 had been injured.

In Marrakesh some buildings have collapsed and the damage is particularly severe in parts of the Medina, a Unesco World Heritage site.

Dust could be seen surrounding the minaret of the historic Kutubiyya mosque, a major tourist attraction near the old city’s main square, while the historic Jemaa el Fnaa mosque partly collapsed.

The quake’s epicentre in a remote area of the High Atlas Mountains was relatively shallow – and tremors were also reportedly felt in the capital Rabat, some 350km away, as well as Casablanca and Essaouira.

Simple buildings in mountain villages near the epicentre may not have survived and, being remote, it may take some time to determine casualties there.

The quake was also felt in neighbouring Algeria, but officials said it had not caused any damage or casualties.

Algeria said it was ready to open its airspace for humanitarian and medical flights to Morocco, despite the fact that it severed ties with its neighbour in 2021 in a move which included suspending direct flights in both directions.

Speaking at the G20 summit in Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the international community would come to Morocco’s aid.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered “solidarity and support to the people of Morocco”. French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “devastated” by the news and offered assistance to Morocco.

US President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky expressed their solidarity while Vladimir Putin said Russia shared “the pain and the mourning of the friendly Moroccan people”.

(Source: BBC)

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