Morocco earthquake: Death toll tops over 2,000; area suffers major damage

MARRAKECH, Morocco — A rare magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit Morocco Friday night and was the strongest quake to hit the country in around 120 years, according to The Associated Press.

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Death toll reaches over 2,100

Update 1:13 p.m. EDT Sept. 10: The Interior Ministry confirmed that 2,122 people were killed in the earthquake Friday, according to The Associated Press. At least 2,421 were injured with 1,404 in critical condition.

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Update 6:35 p.m. EDT Sept. 9: The death toll from the earthquake topped 2,000 on Saturday, The Associated Press reported. Morocco’s interior ministry said late Saturday that 2,012 people had been killed.

According to Morocco’s interior ministry, state-run broadcaster 2M, an additional 2,059 people have been injured, CNN reported.

At least 1,404 of those hurt by the quake are in critical condition, the ministry said.

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Update 3:17 p.m. EDT Sept. 9: Morocco’s interior ministry said the death toll has risen to 1,305 people, according to The New York Times. Over 1,800 are reported injured.

Of the 1,800 injured, 1.220 people are in critical condition, the ministry said, according to the AP.

Update 9:17 a.m. EDT Sept. 9: The death toll Saturday afternoon has increased to at least 1,037 killed, the Interior Ministry said, according to the AP. At least 1,204 are injured with 721 of them in critical condition.

The death toll is expected to increase in the remote areas of Morocco.

The World Health Organization said that about 300,000 people in Marrakech and other nearby areas were affected by the earthquake, according to CNN.

Original story: At least 820 people have died, Morocco’s Interior Ministry reported Saturday morning, according to the AP. Most of the deceased are in Marrakech, Morocco and the five provinces by the earthquake’s epicenter. At least 672 people have been injured. Of those injured, 205 are in serious condition.

The earthquake happened Friday night just after 11 p.m. local time in Morocco, according to CNN.

The quake Friday took place in the African Plate, which is 340 miles south of the African-Eurasian plate boundary, The New York Times reported. The area is seismically active.

The United States Geological Survey said that Friday’s quake was the strongest in the area in about 123 years, the Times reported. Its depth was about 11 miles and its epicenter was about 30 miles away from a ski resort in Morocco, according to a preliminary report Saturday.

It is the deadliest earthquake in Morocco’s recent history. According to the Times, a 5.8 earthquake in 1960 killed 12,000 people.

Morocco’s army said that King Mohammed VI instructed the armed forces to assist with rescue efforts, the newspaper said. France offered to help following the earthquake. They used to have colonial power over Morocco.

“The problem is that where destructive earthquakes are rare, buildings are simply not constructed robustly enough to cope with strong ground shaking, so many collapse resulting in high casualties,” said Bill McGuire, professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, according to the AP. “I would expect the final death toll to climb into the thousands once more is known. As with any big quake, aftershocks are likely, which will lead to further casualties and hinder search and rescue.”

The last time a powerful 5.8 magnitude quake hit Morocco was in February 2004, according to the Times. Around 630 people were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands were left homeless. Other huge earthquakes in Morocco was a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 1969 that killed around a dozen people. A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit both Spain and Morocco in January 2016 and killed one person.