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At least 632 people have been killed and hundreds injured following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Morocco, state TV says. Many of the fatalities are said

Morocco Hit By Devastating Earthquake, Over 600 Reported Death

At least 632 people have been killed and hundreds injured following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Morocco, state TV says. Many of the fatalities are said to be in hard-to-reach areas south of Marrakech.

The epicenter was high in the Atlas Mountains – about 43 miles (70km) away from Marrakech, a popular tourist destination.

Reaching people in remote villages, where old, traditional buildings may be more likely to collapse, will be a key focus of the rescue effort on Saturday.

The earthquake struck late on Friday – damaging buildings in major cities and sending panicked people pouring into the streets. At least 329 people were injured and are being treated in hospital.

Witnesses in Marrakech, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, told Reuters news agency that some buildings have collapsed. Big cracks were seen in a section of the medieval city’s walls.

The magnitude of destruction;

Local television stations broadcast pictures of a fallen mosque minaret, with rubble lying on smashed cars. Others were seen screaming as they ran out of shopping centers and restaurants.

Officials are working to clear roads so ambulances and aid can reach those affected. However, large distances between mountain villages mean it will take time to learn the full extent of the damage.

Local media reported that roads leading to the mountain region were jammed with vehicles and blocked with collapsed rocks, slowing rescue efforts.

Montasir Itri, a resident in the mountain village of Asni not far from the epicenter, said most houses were damaged – adding: “Our neighbors are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village.”

The size and shallow depth of the Morocco earthquake also means it’s likely to have caused damage across a wide area. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS) the 6.8 magnitude earthquake was just 11 miles below the surface.

The epicenter was in the High Atlas Mountains near Oukaimeden, around 50 miles south of Marrakech. It’s a sparsely populated area with Amazigh, or Berber, villages.

The number of dead is expected to rise through the day as more people are uncovered from the rubble. The earthquake was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria.

Morocco has not yet asked for help from other countries, but the United Nations has said it is ready to assist if needed.

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