Picture: for illustration purposes

Deadly Earthquake Devastates Morocco's Atlas Mountains

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

A devastating earthquake, unlike anything Morocco has experienced in recent history, has rocked the rural commune nestled in the High Atlas Mountains. The epicentre was detected in the Ighil area, home to small farming villages in the al-Haouz province near the ski resort of Oukaimeden.

Lanchen Haddad, a Morocan senator, revealed to Al Jazeera that the area, primarily known for its challenging terrain and mountain passes, isn't typically recognized for seismic activity. However, according to Chris Elders, a structural geologist from Australia's Curtin University, it is the Atlas Mountains' long geological history and being a zone of weakness where stresses build up, which likely resulted in the unexpected temblor.

Impact of the the tremor was felt 75 km away in Marrakesh, Morocco's fourth-largest city, where the UNESCO World Heritage old town faced severe damage with several buildings buckling under the quake's force. In fact, tremors reached as far as the capital, Rabat, located 350km north of the epicentre, and even countries like Portugal and Algeria.

The al-Haouz province, along with Ouarazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant provinces were the hardest hit. Meanwhile, initial reports from the Marrakesh-Safi region, home to over 4.5 million people, suggest extensive damage and a high number of casualties.

As the country reels from the destructive impact, the Moroccan government has mobilized both national and provincial response operations. Despite receiving global aid offers, they are yet to formally request international assistance.

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