Morocco last night was hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake at 11PM local time. While initially the death toll was below 300, it has since risen to over 1,000, presently (as of 11AM EST) sitting at 1,037. Well over 1,200 are injured. The earthquake struck near Marrakesh, and is reported to have damaged a number of historic buildings in the city.
International Impacts and Reactions
International sympathies and offers for help have began to pour in as Morocco begins rescue and clean-up operations. Algeria, who cut ties with Morocco in 2021 over continued diplomatic strain, has stated they are opening their airspace to Morocco in order to both transfer humanitarian aid, as well as to transfer the injured to external hospitals, if needed.
Algeria also stated that it has suffered no casualties from the earthquake, which was felt in a number of its cities.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that they are preparing to send a large team of rescuers to Morocco in order to assist both in rescue operations as well as first aid. When an earthquake struck Turkey earlier this year, Israel also sent a large team of rescuers to them.
Additional offers for assistance alongside condolences came from the UK, the US, France, and the IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent). Additionally, Turkey has placed 265 members of medical, relief, and search and rescue agencies of the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) on alert, as it allocates 1,000 tents awaiting a potential distress call from Morocco.
My thoughts are with everyone affected by the terrible earthquake in Morocco last night.
The UK stands ready to support our Moroccan friends. https://t.co/gmRbIZ2Dcc
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) September 9, 2023
Additionally, the Syrian White Helmets have offered assistance. Below is an excerpt of their statement:
“We pray to God for a speedy recovery for the injured. We express our deepest solidarity with the rescue teams of the Civil Protection Agency and hope that their efforts will be crowned with reaching all those trapped under the rubble and restoring hope and life to them. With our experience in search and rescue and in responding to similar situations, we confirm our full readiness to participate in great humanitarian missions and rescue those trapped under the rubble”.
A number of places are reporting both power cuts and internet loss due to widespread infrastructure damage. Morocco has stated that, while they are certainly being flooded with patients, its hospital system has thus far managed to keep up with the flow of people and is not presently overloaded.
Marrakesh is the most major city that is closest to the epicentre of the earthquake. The ancient city is reported to have suffered a number of damages, including within the Old City areas.
The Red Cross has stated that, for rescue efforts, the next 48-72 hours will be critical. Since the earthquake happened at night, many of the people effected would have been sleeping at home.
As rescue efforts continue, the death toll is likely to rise as it has in the last few hours.
Morocco’s government stated this is the worst earthquake the nation has suffered in over a century.