A rare, powerful earthquake struck Morocco late Friday night, killing hundreds of people and damaging buildings from the historic city of Marrakech to villages in the Atlas Mountains.
Men, women and children stayed out in the streets, fearing aftershocks.
Morocco’s Interior Ministry said early Saturday that at least 296 people had died in the provinces near the quake. Additionally, 153 injured people were sent to hospitals for treatment. The ministry wrote that most damage occurred outside of cities and towns.
The head of the town of Talat N’Yaaqoub, Abderrahim Ait Daoud, told Moroccan news site 2M that several homes in towns in the Al Haouz region had partly or totally collapsed, and electricity and roads were cut off in some places.
He said authorities are working to clear roads in the province to allow passage for ambulances and aid to populations affected, but said large distances between mountain villages mean it will take time to learn the extent of the damage.
Moroccans posted videos showing buildings reduced to rubble and dust, and parts of the famous red walls that surround the old city in 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. (2211 GMT), with shaking that lasted several seconds. The U.S. agency reported a magnitude-4.9 aftershock hit 19 minutes later.
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