September 9, 2023 Earthquake hits Morocco

By Chris Lau, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Andrew Raine, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:08 AM ET, Sun September 10, 2023
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12:07 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Rescue teams struggling to reach the most affected areas

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

Rescue teams in Morocco are having difficulties reaching the areas most affected by Friday night's earthquake because nearby roads are damaged and blocked, state-run Al Aoula TV has reported.

The 6.8-magnitude quake struck shortly after 11 p.m. local time at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.4 miles), according to the US Geological Survey.

The epicenter was in the High Atlas mountains located about 72 kilometers (44.7 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a city of some 840,000 people and a popular tourist destination.

12:14 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Here is why Marrakech is so popular with tourists

CNN's Nectar Gan

Jemaa el-Fnaa, a square and market place, in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Jemaa el-Fnaa, a square and market place, in Marrakesh, Morocco. Getty Images

The walls of Marrakesh at sunset.
The walls of Marrakesh at sunset. Getty Images

 Koutoubia Minaret and mosque at dusk in Marrakesh, Morocco.
 Koutoubia Minaret and mosque at dusk in Marrakesh, Morocco. Getty Images

A former imperial city with nearly a thousand years of history, Marrakech is tightly packed with medieval-era palaces, mosques, gardens and bustling markets.

Its old city center is surrounded by red earth walls and filled with buildings constructed in red sandstone, which gave the city its nickname the “red city.”

Those walls were first laid out in the early 12th century.

Before the Covid pandemic, the old city drew nearly three million tourists in 2019.

Some context: Some of the ramparts were damaged in the quake, Al Aoula TV reported.

In addition to its rich culture and history, Marrakech is also Morocco’s fourth largest city and a major economic center.

12:57 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

India ready to offer assistance, Modi says

From CNN's Manveena Suri and Akanksha Sharma

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his condolences over the loss of lives due to the earthquake in Morocco.

“Extremely pained by the loss of lives due to an earthquake in Morocco”, Modi said on Saturday local time via his official account on X, formerly known as Twitter, as he sent "condolences to those who have lost their loved ones."

He said his thoughts were with the people of Morocco in this tragic hour.

“May the injured recover at the earliest," Modi said, adding that India is ready to offer assistance to Morocco.
11:37 p.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Earthquake damages historic walls of Marrakech

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

The earthquake has damaged parts of Marrakech's historic walls, according to the country's state-run Al Aoula TV.

The walls are a set of defensive ramparts that enclose the historic medina districts of Marrakech and were first laid out in the early 12th century.

10:50 p.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Morocco's Interior Ministry urges people not to panic

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

Morocco's Interior Ministry on Saturday urged people to keep calm and to "avoid panic."

In a speech broadcast on state media, Rashid Al-Khalfi, the general secretary of Internal Affairs at the ministry, said the government has already activated all resources available to deal with the tragedy.

12:49 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Hundreds dead after quake strikes Morocco, state TV reports

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq 

View of a damaged car and debris from the earthquake in Marrakech, Morocco, on September 9.
View of a damaged car and debris from the earthquake in Marrakech, Morocco, on September 9.  Al Oula TV/Handout via Reuters

At least 296 people have been killed, and more than 150 wounded after an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 hit Morocco on Friday night, state-run Al-Aoula television reported on Saturday.

10:42 p.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Multiple buildings collapse near quake epicenter, Morocco TV shows

From CNN's Sharif Paget and Mohammed Tawfeeq

Multiple buildings collapsed following Friday night's quake southwest of Marrakech city in Morocco, footage aired by the state-run Al-Aoula TV station showed.

Thousands of people fled their houses and residential buildings after the country's National Institute of Geophysics warned of aftershocks.

The epicenter of the quake was in the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province of the Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz region of Morocco.

10:41 p.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Quake epicenter was in High Atlas mountains, US Geological Survey says

The quake struck shortly after 11 p.m. local time at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.4 miles), according to the US Geological Survey.

The epicenter was in the High Atlas mountains located about 72 kilometers (44.7 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a city of some 840,000 people and a popular tourist destination.

“Earthquakes of this size in the region are uncommon, but not unexpected. Since 1900, there have been no earthquakes M6 (magnitude 6) and larger within 500 km of this earthquake, and only nine M5 (magnitude 5) and larger earthquakes,” USGS said.

The US body predicted that “significant damage is likely and the disaster is potentially widespread”, noting that many people in the area reside in structures that are “highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking.”

10:40 p.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Here's how earthquakes are measured

From CNN's Jennifer Gray

Measuring earthquakes is no easy task, given they strike suddenly and sometimes at global scale.

When the Earth’s crust shifts abruptly, an earthquake occurs, with energy radiated out as seismic waves and shaking that’s sometimes experienced by people, buildings and infrastructure.

Seismic waves and factors related to the shifting ground determine an earthquake’s magnitude, as measured through 10 on the scale most commonly used to describe quakes.

How strong the shaking feels is an earthquake’s intensity, as measured on a scale that uses Roman numerals to assign categories based on assessed damage and people’s observations.

Here’s what the scales indicate:

Scientists largely use the moment magnitude scale to categorize earthquakes’ strength and size in a way that’s more accurate than the long-used Richter scale, the US Geological Survey says.

This moment magnitude scale is based on the earthquake’s “seismic moment,” which accounts for how far the Earth’s crust shifts in a quake, the size of the area along the crustal crack and the force required to overcome friction at that spot, along with the seismic waves the shift creates.

The moment magnitude will be larger if there is more friction and shifting across a longer distance. Seismic waves are measured by seismometers, which use a pendulum attached to a spring that moves with the shaking of the Earth, generating a kind of graph called a seismogram.

Magnitude is ranked through 10, with each whole-number increase equal to 32 times more energy released.

You can read more here