What has happened:
The United States Geological Survey on late Friday evening (September 8) reported a strong earthquake of magnitude 6.8 has struck central Morocco.
At the time of filing this report, the the country’s interior ministry had confirmed the death of 296 people with over 150 others injured.
The epicentre was in the High Atlas Mountains, 71km (44 miles) south-west of Marrakesh, at a depth of 18.5km, the US Geological Survey said.
The quake struck at 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT). There was a 4.9 aftershock 19 minutes later.
People died in Marrakesh and several areas to the south, the ministry said.
“According to a provisional report, the earthquake killed 296 people in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant,” the statement said, adding that 153 people were injured and hospitalised.
Unverified video clips on X (formerly Twitter) show damaged buildings, other buildings shaking and rubble-strewn streets. People are seen fleeing in alarm and some walking through clouds of dust.
Some buildings in Marrakesh’s old city have collapsed, one resident told the Reuters news agency. Several clips on X show buildings crashing down, but the BBC has not identified where they were.
First world leader to react:
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first leader to commiserate with Morocco putting out a tweet offering condolences and support.
His tweet read: “Extremely pained by the loss of lives due to an earthquake in Morocco. In this tragic hour, my thoughts are with the people of Morocco. Condolences to those who have lost their loved ones.
“May the injured recover at the earliest. India is ready to offer all possible assistance to Morocco in this difficult time.”
Videos purport to show the moment quake struck:
Across social media, people are sharing a number of videos purporting to be the moment that the quake struck.
People are seen inspecting rubble or captured running away as the quake hit, whiles others are also standing in the streets, ostensibly rushing out over the chaos.
GhanaWeb is unable to independently verify any of the videos. Some of which are below:
What locals have been saying
Locals are said to have decided to stay outside their homes in case the city is rocked by powerful aftershocks.
Another man in the historic city described feeling a “violent tremor” and seeing “buildings moving”.
“People were all in shock and panic. The children were crying and the parents were distraught,” Abdelhak El Amrani told the AFP agency.
He said power and phone lines were down for ten minutes.
AFP also reported that one family was trapped in the collapsed rubble of a house – and that a number of people in the city were taken to hospital.
The quake’s epicentre in a remote area of the High Atlas Mountains was relatively shallow – and tremors were also reportedly felt in the capital Rabat, some 350km away, as well as Casablanca and Essaouira.
Simple buildings in mountain villages near the epicentre may not have survived and, being remote, it may take some time to determine casualties there.
With additional files from BBC coverage