Morocco earthquake


Oct 24, 2003
On 8 September 2023 at 23:11 DST (22:11 UTC), an earthquake with a moment magnitude of 6.8–6.9 and maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe) struck Morocco's Marrakesh-Safi region. The earthquake's epicenter was located 73.4 km (45.6 mi) southwest of Marrakesh, near the town of Ighil in the Atlas Mountains. It occurred as a result of shallow oblique-thrust faulting beneath the mountain range. At least 2,122 deaths were reported, with most occurring outside Marrakesh. Damage was widespread, and historic landmarks in Marrakesh were destroyed. [wikipedia]

As of Monday morning the death toll is 2,122 and is expected to rise further. The United Nations estimated the disaster has affected 300,000 people.

Of the 2,122 deaths reported as of Sunday evening, 1,351 were in Al-Haouz, a region with a population of more than 570,00, according to Morocco’s 2014 census.

“More than 18,000 families have been affected” by the quake in Al-Haouz, Moroccan public television reported. The largely agrarian province had been suffering record drought that had dried up rivers and lakes when the earthquake hit.

Villages of clay and mud brick buildings built into mountainsides have been destroyed.

The Marrakesh-Safi earthquake is the largest instrumentally recorded in Morocco's modern history, surpassed only by upper estimates of the 1755 Meknes earthquake, at Mw 6.5–7.0.

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Multiple factors have contributed, according to seismologists and disaster risk-reduction specialists.

The first was magnitude. At 6.8, the earthquake was not huge — the one that devastated parts of Turkey and Syria in February, for example, was magnitude 7.8. But it was unusually large for Morocco. “It’s exceptional for the region,” says Rémy Bossu, secretary-general of the Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Centre in Bruyères le Châtel, France.


However, the biggest contributor to the disaster has been lack of preparedness, says disaster researcher Ilan Kelman at University College London. “Earthquakes don’t kill people, collapsing infrastructure does,” he says. “This was so devastating simply because people were not ready for it.”

Even moderate earthquakes can be lethal if societies are not prepared, says Kelman. He highlights the magnitude-5.9 quake that struck Agadir in Morocco on 29 February 1960. About one-third of the city’s population was killed and another third injured, mostly by collapsing buildings. Although this was not a huge tremor, the US Geological Survey calls it “the most destructive ‘moderate’ quake (magnitude less than 6) in the 20th Century”.


Buildings in Morocco are often designed to control for extremes of temperature, which are an ever-present risk, whereas earthquake resilience has taken a back seat, in part because they are rarer, says Kelman. However, in some other regions traditional building materials such as masonry or adobe have been successfully adapted to be earthquake-resilient. “We know we can do it,” he says.

When attempting to make buildings more resilient to earthquakes, the most important thing is to talk to local people, says Kelman. “They know their architecture, they know what works for their needs,” he says.

Kelman says it is also crucial to think about earthquake resilience as part of sustainable development. People are often advised to have a ‘go bag’ that contains essentials like bottled water, non-perishable food, medicines and a means of communication — but they need to have enough money to be able to afford to maintain it.

As a result, he says, building earthquake resilience means tackling broader societal problems such as poverty and lack of education. “All aspects of disasters are political,” says Kelman. “All disaster risk reduction is about development.”

On a earthquake-related note, just this year there was an earthquake where I live. I received a warning from Google on my phone beforehand. I was able to get the rest of the household outside just before the tremors struck. Thankfully nothing was damaged but the important thing was we got out of danger in time. Megacorps' all-pervasive sightgrasp is bad in many ways, but in some cases it can be a real lifesaver
A thing about earthquakes not usually addressed in the news is the depth of the hypocenter, which is even more important than magnitude. For instance Durcal earthquake which happened in 1954 in Spain (number 1 in that map) was almost 8 in the Richter scale, about 10 times stronger than the one in Morocco, however it didn't cause a single victim because it was way deeper.
For the color it looks like electric lines and transformers being affected by the earthquake.
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