A powerful earthquake that struck Morocco late Friday night killed at least 296 people, the country’s Interior Ministry said.
Moroccans posted videos showing buildings reduced to rubble and dust and parts of the famous red walls that surround the old city in historic Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site, damaged.
Tourists and others posted videos of people screaming and evacuating restaurants in the city as throbbing club music played.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 when it hit at 11:11 p.m. local time with shaking that lasted several seconds. The agency reported a magnitude-4.9 aftershock hit 19 minutes later.
“The earth shook for about 20 seconds,” said Hamid Afkir, a teacher in a mountainous area west of the epicentre near Taroudant. “Doors opened and shut by themselves as I rushed downstairs from the second floor.”
In Marrakesh, some houses in the tightly packed old city had collapsed and people were working to remove debris by hand while they waited for heavy equipment, said resident Id Waaziz Hassan.
Footage of the medieval city wall showed big cracks in one section and parts that had fallen, with rubble lying on the street.
Another Marrakesh resident, Brahim Himmi, said he saw ambulances coming out of the old town and many building facades damaged. He said people were frightened and were staying outside in case of another quake.
People in Rabat, about 350 kilometres north of Ighil, and in the coastal town of Imsouane, about 180 kilometres to its west, also fled their homes, fearing a stronger quake, witnesses told Reuters.
Some videos shared on social media, which Reuters could not immediately verify, appeared to show at least one building collapsing and rubble in the streets.
Others showed people running out of a shopping centre, restaurants and apartment buildings and congregating outside.
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