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Jade Small
Jade Small
September 11, 2023 ·  4 min read

Death toll rises to over 2,500 following devastating earthquake in Morocco

A cataclysmic earthquake in Morocco of unprecedented magnitude has rocked the country, unleashing widespread devastation and triggering a monumental rescue operation in its aftermath. With a death toll already exceeding thousands and countless others injured or missing, this seismic catastrophe marks a somber milestone in the nation’s history.

The Earthquake’s Terrible Toll

In a seismic event not witnessed in over a century, Morocco’s heartland was jolted by the most potent earthquake in recent memory. The epicenter of this catastrophic tremor lay perilously close to the bustling tourist hub and economic center of Marrakech.

As of Monday, official figures reported a staggering 2,681 lives lost and 2,501 individuals injured in the wake of the earthquake in Morocco. These numbers serve as stark reminders of the unprecedented tragedy that has befallen the nation.

Race Against Time

On the ground, dedicated teams from the Service d’Aide Medicale Urgente (SAMU) are tirelessly sifting through the rubble in a desperate search for survivors. Borja González, the International Operations Director of SAMU, shared harrowing insights during an interview with NBC’s “TODAY” show. He recounted being thrust into the earthquake’s epicenter, where every moment counts in the quest to rescue those still trapped beneath the debris.

González revealed the formidable challenges facing the rescue teams, as the basic construction materials in the affected areas make their mission all the more arduous. The absence of heavy machinery in these remote mountainous regions has prompted neighbors, volunteers, and SAMU personnel to unite in a heroic effort to remove earth and rocks to uncover potential survivors.

When asked about the prospects of finding survivors days after the earthquake in Morocco, González affirmed that “There’s always hope.”

The Earthquake in Morocco’s Impact

The earthquake in Morocco struck at approximately 11:11 p.m. local time on Friday. The earthquake’s epicenter was situated in the High Atlas mountain range, a mere 72 kilometers (44.7 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a city inhabited by roughly 840,000 people. Its seismic waves rippled far and wide, extending as far north as Casablanca. However, the most severe damage occurred in towns and villages at the base of the Atlas Mountains and within the heart and suburbs of Marrakech itself.

The earthquake in Morocco registered an impressive magnitude of 6.8, classifying it as a “strong” quake. Its shallowness only intensified its destructive potential. Notably, this is Morocco’s deadliest earthquake since 1960, when a temblor claimed the lives of over 12,000 individuals.

Seismological data indicates that while earthquakes of this scale are rare in the region, they are not entirely unexpected. Since 1900, nine earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or higher have rattled the area, yet none have surpassed a magnitude of 6.

The Most Affected Regions

Of the heart-wrenching death toll reported on Sunday evening, a significant portion—1,351 lives—were tragically lost in Al-Haouz, a region with a population exceeding 570,000, according to Morocco’s 2014 census. The earthquake’s devastation has left more than 18,000 families in Al-Haouz profoundly affected, compounding the region’s woes, which had already been grappling with a severe drought that had depleted rivers and lakes.

Villages characterized by their clay and mud brick buildings, built into the rugged mountainsides, have been reduced to ruins. Meanwhile, ancient structures crumbled in Marrakech’s historic Old City, obstructing narrow streets with heaps of debris. Many residents who lost their homes now find themselves sleeping in the open, haunted by the fear of aftershocks and further destruction from the earthquake in Morocco.

Global Aid Pours In for Earthquake in Morocco

The international community has rallied behind Morocco in the face of this unprecedented earthquake in Morocco. World leaders have expressed their condolences and offered vital support. France has activated emergency aid, committing 5 million euros ($5.3 million) to non-governmental organizations operating in Morocco. Spain dispatched a search and rescue team comprising 56 soldiers and four dogs to assist with the relief efforts.

Turkey, no stranger to earthquakes, has pledged to send 265 personnel and 1,000 tents to support aid operations in Morocco. Britain, too, has contributed by deploying 60 search and rescue specialists, including canine teams, rescue equipment, and a medical assessment unit.

In a gesture of humanitarian solidarity, despite severed diplomatic ties with Morocco, Algeria has decided to reopen its airspace for humanitarian aid and medical flights to and from the affected nation. Furthermore, the Red Cross Society of China has announced a $200,000 emergency humanitarian cash assistance package for the Moroccan Red Crescent to bolster rescue and relief endeavors.

The United Nations, US President Joe Biden, and the World Bank have all extended their readiness to provide assistance, underscoring the global commitment to aid Morocco in this hour of dire need.

Keep Reading:


  1. “What we know three days after Morocco’s devastating earthquake.” Aljazeera
  2. “Morocco earthquake live updates: Desperation and grief as death toll grows.” NBC News
  3. “What we know about the Morocco earthquake.” CNN