Earthquake of this Magnitude Hasn't Struck Morocco in the Last 100 Years

Central Morocco experienced a jolt like no other when a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck yesterday

by Faruk Imamovic
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Earthquake of this Magnitude Hasn't Struck Morocco in the Last 100 Years
© Getty Images News/Carl Court

Central Morocco experienced a jolt like no other when a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck yesterday. Classified as the most potent quake in the region in the past century, its ripples of destruction have not only shattered infrastructures but also countless lives.

Echoes from the High Atlas Mountains

Situated in the heart of the High Atlas Mountains, a mere 71 km southwest of the bustling city of Marrakesh, the earthquake's epicenter drilled itself at a depth of 18.5 km. The initial tally of casualties has been distressingly high, with the latest counts documenting upwards of 2,000 victims.

Regrettably, as rescue operations intensify, this grim number is expected to rise. The very foundation of this catastrophic event lies in the slow yet persistent geological "collision" between the European and African continental plates.

While such tectonic disturbances typically vent their fury further east - predominantly around the Mediterranean regions of Italy, Greece, and Turkey - Morocco found itself an unexpected victim this time around. Delving into historical seismic records, one would have to journey back more than a century to locate any earthquake surpassing the 6.0 magnitude within a 500 km radius of this recent epicenter.

The Vulnerability of Nighttime Quakes

One exacerbating factor was the timing of the tremor. Striking during the nocturnal hours, many Moroccan residents were ensconced within their homes, tragically leading to an increased death toll.

Buildings, unprepared for such a seismic onslaught, crumbled, trapping unsuspecting individuals in their deadly embrace. Morocco, although not a regular on the list of high-risk seismic zones, has faced its share of destructive quakes in the past.

A poignant reminder of this vulnerability occurred in 2004, where the northeastern region of the country was rocked, leading to the loss of 628 lives. However, the darkest chapter in Morocco's earthquake history is undeniably the 1960 Agadir catastrophe, a heart-wrenching event where as many as 12,000 souls were extinguished.

In the face of this latest seismic upheaval, Morocco now grapples with a mix of grief, resilience, and determination to rebuild, recalling past tragedies and the lessons they have imparted.

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