Powerful earthquake strikes Morocco, damaging buildings and sending people into the streets

Woman in front of her earthquake-damaged house in Marrakech
A woman stands in front of her earthquake-damaged house in the Old City in Marrakech, Morocco, on Saturday.
(Fadel Senna / AFP via Getty Images)
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A powerful earthquake struck Morocco late Friday, damaging buildings in major cities and sending panicked people pouring into streets and alleyways from Rabat to Marrakech. There was no immediate word on any casualties, nor any reports from government officials on the tremor’s impact.

Moroccans posted videos showing some buildings turned to rubble. Tourists and others posted videos of people evacuating restaurants in Marrakech as throbbing club music played.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 when it hit at 11:11 p.m. Morocco’s National Seismic Monitoring and Alert Network measured it at 7 on the Richter scale.


Variations in early measurements are common, although either reading would be Morocco’s strongest in years. Though earthquakes are relatively rare in North Africa, a magnitude 5.8 tremor struck near Agadir and caused thousands of deaths in 1960.

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The epicenter of Friday’s tremor was high in the Atlas Mountains south of Marrakech and west of Oukaimeden, a popular Moroccan ski resort. It was also near Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.

MAP, Morocco’s official news agency, had not published any information about the earthquake as of early Saturday.