A Magnitude 6.8 earthquake killed at least 1,300 people in Morocco and left another 1,800 injured, toppling buildings and bringing widespread damage just south of the historic city of Marrakesh, officials in Morocco confirmed Saturday morning, as the country reels from its most powerful earthquake in at least 120 years. (Related: The devastating Moroccan earthquake in photos.)
At least 1,305 people were confirmed dead in the earthquake, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces said Saturday, with another 1,832 injured including more than 1,220 in critical condition.
The death toll is expected to grow as rescue workers search remote areas around the earthquake’s center.
The earthquake’s epicenter occurred in the village of Iguil, near the popular Oukaimeden ski resort, in the country’s High Atlas Mountains—an area where strong earthquakes are “uncommon but not unexpected,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The quake caused buildings to collapse in the city of Marrakesh, as well as the provinces of Al Haouz, Chihuahua, Ouarzazate and Taroudant, Spain’s El Pais reported, killing nearly 400 people in Al Haouz, with another 271 in Taroudant and 31 in Chichaoua, Moroccan state news outlet Maghreb Arabe Press.
University College London professor Bill McGuire told AFP one reason for the collapse is due to the type of construction used on buildings in the area, where large-scale earthquakes are rare.
In the wake of the disaster, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation postponed the men’s national soccer team’s qualifying match scheduled for Saturday evening against Libya in the African Cup of Nations, while club defenseman Achraf Hakimi called for blood donations for those injured in the earthquake.
Although the High Atlas Mountains have experienced earthquakes in the past, with nine magnitude 5 earthquakes since 1990, the region has not seen an earthquake the size of the Saturday’s since at least 1900, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The earthquake in Morocco comes six months after another major quake rattled Syria and Turkey, killing at least 50,000 people in both countries in the world’s deadliest earthquake in more than a decade. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the 7.8 Magnitude earthquake—which sparked a massive humanitarian aid mission amid sub-freezing temperatures—as the “biggest disaster in the last century.”
Powerful quake in Morocco kills more than 1,000 people and damages historic buildings in Marrakech (El Pais)