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Where the 6.8 magnitude quake hit and how close the epicentre was to Marrakech

More than 2,000 people have been killed in Morocco’s deadliest earthquake since 1960.

Around 2,059 are injured, including 1,404 who are in a critical condition, according to the country’s interior minister.

The quake, gauged by the US Geological Survey (USGS) at a magnitude of 6.8 had its epicentre around 75 km (50 miles) southwest of Marrakech.

When and where did the earthquake happen?

The 6.8 earthquake struck in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains late on Friday night with its epicentre near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province.

Most of the fatalities, currently 2,012, were reported in the mountainous areas to the south.

As well as the dead and injured, historic buildings in Marrakech were affected.  The city’s famous Koutoubia Mosque, built in the 12th century, was damaged, however, the extent to which is not yet known.

The epicentre of the earthquake took place around 50 miles south west of Marrakech (Source: USGS)

The USGS reported: “At 11.11pm local time, the US Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center detected the relatively shallow earthquake, at a depth of about 26 km, or 16 miles, near the ski resort of Oukaïmedene.

“This rural area, about 75 km (50 miles) southwest of Marrakech, includes many residences that are vulnerable to shaking.”

It added: “Due to the shallow depth of the event and its proximity to high population centres, many buildings experienced severe shaking that can result in catastrophic failure.”

In Marrakech’s old city, a Unesco World Heritage site, a mosque minaret had fallen in Jemaa al-Fna Square.

MARRAKESH, MOROCCO - SEPTEMBER 9: A view of a destroyed building after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country's Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A building destroyed by the earthquake in Marrakech (Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

There were aftershocks detected by local agencies. The USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) has reported one major aftershock of magnitude 4.9, which took place 20 minutes after the main shock.

The USGS said it was “likely” smaller aftershocks will continue to be felt “for weeks to come”.

The World Health Organization said more than 300,000 people were affected in Marrakech and the surrounding areas.

In 1960, the 5.8 magnitude Agadir earthquake killed 12,000-15,000 people in coastal western Morocco, according to the USGS.

TOPSHOT - Rescue workers search for survivors in a collapsed house in Moulay Brahim, Al Haouz province, on September 9, 2023, after an earthquake. Morocco's deadliest earthquake in decades has killed at least 820 people, officials said on September 9, causing widespread damage and sending terrified residents and tourists scrambling to safety in the middle of the night. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Rescue workers search for survivors in a collapsed house in Moulay Brahim, Al Haouz province (Photo: FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

What is the latest with the rescue operation?

A day after the earthquake, many survivors spent Saturday night in the open on the High Atlas Mountains.

The Moroccan armed forces will deploy rescue teams to provide affected areas with clean drinking water, food supplies, tents and blankets, it added.

People are also searching for their neighbours buried on the slopes, where houses of mud brick, stone and rough wood were cracked open.

MARRAKECH, MOROCCO - SEPTEMBER 9: People shelter in a park after being made homeless by an earthquake on September 9, 2023 in Marrakech, Morocco. An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale has hit central Morocco. Although the epicenter was in a sparsely populated area of the High Atlas Mountains, the effects have been felt 71km away in Marrakesh, a major tourist destination, where many buildings have collapsed and hundreds of deaths reported. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
People shelter in a park after being made homeless by an earthquake in Marrakech, Morocco (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

On Saturday, Morocco declared three days of national mourning, during which the national flag will be flown at half-mast throughout the country.

King Mohammed VI has ordered water, food rations and shelter to be provided to those who have lost their homes.

He also called for mosques across the kingdom to hold prayers on Sunday for the victims.

What has been the response to the earthquake?

Turkey, where powerful earthquakes in February killed more than 50,000 people, expressed solidarity and offered to provide support.

Algeria, which broke off ties with Morocco in 2021 after tensions between the countries focused on the Western Sahara conflict, said it would open airspace for humanitarian and medical flights.

According to the Associated Press, the United Nations said it was working with Moroccan authorities to see how international partners can provide support. The king was reported to have offered thanks, but there was no clear message regarding whether Morocco would welcome foreign rescuers.

Spain will send search and rescue teams and other aid to quake-hit Morocco after it received a formal request for help from Rabat, Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Sunday.

*Additional reporting Reuters and Associated Press

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