Morocco Earthquake: 7.2 magnitude earthquake hits in the Atlas Mountains near Marrakech killing at least 600

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Tragedy has struck Morocco as a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake has hit south of the iconic Marrakech, killing at least 600

Over 600 people have been killed following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Morocco, according to officials. Many of the deaths are believed to have happened in areas south of Marrakech - which are reportedly hard to reach.

The earthquake hit the country, which is located in North Africa, and borders the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, late on Friday damaging buildings in major cities with panicked people fleeing into the streets.

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The tremor had an initial 6.8 magnitude when it hit at 11.11pm local time with shaking that lasted several seconds. The country’s interior ministry says the deaths are currently a preliminary figure as most have occurred in mountainous areas that are hard to reach.

Morocco’s National Seismic Monitoring and Alert Network said the earthquake struck in the Ighil area of the High Atlas with a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale. Just 19 minutes after this, a 4.9-magnitude aftershock was reported.

AFP via Getty Images

Sky News’ Africa correspondent Yousra Elbagir, speaking from Johannesburg, said: “Marrakech is a historic area and the earthquake is just south of the city, so a lot of old buildings have collapsed. There are buildings that are centuries old, it’s a very historic place.”

The country does have a history of earthquakes - 19 years ago in 2004, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake near the Mediterranean city of Al Hoceima caused over 600 deaths. Further back, in 1960, a magnitude 5.8 tremor struck near the city of Agadir. Following that quake, building laws in the country were changed.

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