A strong earthquake jolted Morocco on Friday and killed more than 600 people and injured over 300. The 6.8-magnitude quake — which is said to be the most powerful earthquake to hit the country to date — struck 72 kilometres southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh.
According to Morocco’s interior ministry, more than half of people were killed in Al-Haouz and Taroudant provinces. Deaths were also reported in Ouarzazate, Chichaoua, Azilal and Youssoufia provinces, as well as in Marrakesh, Agadir, and the Casablanca area.
“I could see buildings moving. We don’t necessarily have the reflexes for this type of situation. Then I went outside and there were a lot of people there. People were all in shock and panic. The children were crying and the parents were distraught,” Abdelhak El Amrani, a 33-year-old in Marrakesh, told the news agency AFP.
Another resident said he felt the tremors three times in his building.
“People went out into the street just after this total panic, and there are families who are still sleeping outside because we were so scared of the force of this earthquake,” Faisal Baddour told AFP.
“It was as if a train was passing close to our houses,” he added.
Frenchman Michael Bizet, 43, told AFP that he had been in bed at the time of the quake.
“I thought my bed was going to fly away. I went out into the street half-naked and immediately went to see my riads. It was total chaos, a real catastrophe, madness,” he said.
Another Marrakesh resident, Brahim Himmi, said people were frightened and were staying outside in case of another earthquake.
“The chandelier fell from the ceiling and I ran out. I’m still in the road with my children and we’re scared,” Houda Hafsi was quoted as saying by the news agency Reuters.
A resident of Taroudant said he had fled his home and felt aftershocks.
“The earth shook for about 20 seconds. Doors opened and shut by themselves as I rushed downstairs from the second floor,” Hamid Afkar, a teacher, told Reuters.
The earthquake is reportedly Morocco’s deadliest since a 2004 tremor near Al Hoceima in the northern Rif mountains killed more than 600 people.