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B.C. resident recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ experience during Morocco earthquake

Click to play video: 'Powerful Morocco earthquake spreads disbelief as death toll rises'
Powerful Morocco earthquake spreads disbelief as death toll rises
Panic and disbelief on the streets of Morocco in the immediate aftermath of a powerful earthquake, the strongest to hit the country in 120 years. More than 2,000 people have been killed and more than 2,000 others have been injured – most of them are in critical condition. There are fears the number of dead will grow. The 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains and flattened historic buildings in Marrakech, the city closest to the earthquake’s epicentre. Roads are impassable and it could take days to reach the hardest-hit villages in Morocco’s remote mountainous region. Caryn Lieberman has more – Sep 9, 2023

A Nelson, B.C., resident was in Marrakech, Morocco, on vacation when the deadly 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck the region.

Fiona Richards said on Friday she was sitting at a rented home having a drink when the ground and walls started to shake.

“Suddenly the walls started to shake violently, we were slammed with a huge shaker. It felt like a dragon was under the floor,” she told Global News.

“We huddled under a doorway … absolutely terrifying.”

More than 2,000 people were killed, and the toll is expected to rise as rescuers continue to uncover buried victims.

The quake, the biggest to hit the North African country in 120 years, caused extensive damage to infrastructure in the region, with many buildings left in piles of rubble.

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“The screaming and the crying … the noise from outside was just tragic,” Richards said.

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Richards said the locals are extremely dependent on tourism and the earthquake has completely dried up income coming in.

Click to play video: 'Canadian government responds to Morocco earthquake'
Canadian government responds to Morocco earthquake

At least 1,037 people died, mostly in Marrakech and five provinces near the quake’s epicenter, and another 1,204 people were injured, Morocco’s Interior Ministry reported Saturday morning. The ministry wrote that 721 of the injured were in critical condition.

“The problem is that where destructive earthquakes are rare, buildings are simply not constructed robustly enough to cope with strong ground shaking, so many collapse, resulting in high casualties,” said Bill McGuire, professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London.

“I would expect the final death toll to climb into the thousands once more is known. As with any big quake, aftershocks are likely, which will lead to further casualties and hinder search and rescue.”

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In a sign of the huge scale of the disaster, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI ordered the armed forces to specialized search and rescue teams and a surgical field hospital, according to a statement from the military.

The epicenter of Friday’s tremor was near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province, roughly 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Marrakech. Al Haouz is known for scenic villages and valleys tucked in the High Atlas Mountains.

Friday’s quake was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria, according to the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria’s Civil Defense agency, which oversees emergency response.

— with files from Canadian Press

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