More than 2,000 dead following massive earthquake in Morocco

A man wades through the rubble following an earthquake in Morocco.
(Image credit: Fadel Senna / AFP via Getty Images)

More than 2,000 people are dead and another 2,000 are injured following a devastating earthquake Friday in Morocco, officials said.

The magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck the North African country's Al Haouz province around 11 p.m. local time, according to a seismic reading from the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicenter was located less than 50 miles from the historic city of Marrakesh, causing widespread damage. Residents were seen scrambling for cover as the earthquake began, with videos posted online later showing buildings reduced to piles of rubble. The earthquake also caused major damage in other cities throughout Morocco, including Rabat, Casablanca and Fez.

As of Saturday evening local time, 2,012 people had died and 2,059 people had been injured, the Moroccan state TV channel Al Aoula reported, citing the country's interior ministry. Officials said this death toll was expected to rise as rescue efforts started to get underway. Moroccan King Mohammad VI ordered the mobilization of the army in order to assist search-and-rescue teams.

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The massive earthquake is the deadliest and strongest to hit the region in over 100 years, the U.S. Geological Survey said in its preliminary report. Since 1900, the survey has documented nine magnitude 5 earthquakes in the area, but none over magnitude 6 until now.

Many of the deaths reportedly occurred in small settlements throughout Al Haouz. "We found casualties and people running and kids crying," Ayoub Toudite, a resident of the small village of Moulay Brahim, told The Associated Press. "We never saw anything like this, 20 deaths in the area, 30 injuries. We are all terrified that this happens again."

Dozens of world leaders have offered condolences and aid to Morocco. President Biden said in a statement he was "deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation," and was ready "to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people."

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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.