|February 24, 2004
Morocco earthquake kills up to 300
Up to 300 people are feared to have died in an earthquake which shook Morocco
The official death toll now stands at 82 but locals fear the number of dead
will increase dramatically as more bodies are dug from the rubble.
The quake was centred just off shore from the city of al-Hoceima a
well-known fishing and tourism destination, on Morocco's Mediterranean coast.
The city escaped the worst of the quake, but the village of Ait Kamara about
10 miles to the south was completely destroyed. Two other villages nearby,
Im-Zouren and Bni-Hadifa, were badly hit.
The quake measured 6.5 on the Richter scale. It struck at 2.30am this
morning. Many of those killed lived in mud huts which were completely
flattened by the quake.
A large-scale rescue operation involving army and navy troops, backed by
helicopters, was under way this morning.
The last major earthquake to hit the Maghreb area was in neighbouring Algeria
last May. It measured 6.8 on the Richter scale and killed 2,300 people near
the capital Algiers.
Moroccos worst recorded quake was in 1960. It destroyed the southern
Atlantic city of Agadir, killing 12,000 people.
Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2004 9:34 AM
Subject: Quake Alert
6.4 Quake Strikes Northern Morocco, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland
A 6.4 magnitude quake has been reported just north of the coast of Morocco--a
very unusual location for such a large quake. One news report says that the
epicenter was eastern France. Over 300 have been reported killed thus far,
so the toll will likely
be much higher. France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, in addition to Morocco
have been affected. A news report from
Morocco states that in Imzouren, a city of 30,000 people some 10 kilometers
(six miles) south of Al Hoceima, about 40 small buildings and houses were
"entirely destroyed" by the earthquake, a local official said, stressing
that "entire families" had been asleep in them when the quake struck at 2:27
am (0227 GMT). This report states that the earthquake's epicenter was in
town of Ait Kamra, some 10 kilometers south of Al Hoceima. It has been followed
by hundreds of aftershocks. Perhaps there
has been more than one quake that is being reported.
Here is a personal report from someone in Spain:
3:30 tonight my bed, lamps and the whole apartment where i live with 7 floors
was shaking , A earthquake , i though the
whole apartment would fall down , luckely it stopped after half minute. The
neightbours said they felt it to, i called the police
but i could not reach the line it was colapsed since everyone was calling,
but after 15 minuts i got answer and they told me
they felt it too and it was a earthquake, they recomended leaving the building
if things started to fall down using the stairs not
later on the local readio they confirmed it was an earthquake so big as 6.3
on the richer scala it had been felt in whole south
spain, and it came from the north of Africa. in Melila north of africa telephone
lines was down everywhere, there still not news about wounded in africa where
the earthquake was worst.
I packed a suitcase in case evacuation , but i hope it will not be more shakes
it is very rare with such a big earthquake in south spain , is my first time
i felt an earthquake...
everything is ok here there is no damage , but i feared the whole block would
There have been other unusual quakes, too. One (a 4.8) has been reported
in Burundi, 13 minutes earlier in a different part
of the world, which almost never gets a quake report. Yesterday there was
a 6.3 quake in the Samoa Islands, the day before
that a 6.0 in Southern Sumatra, and the day before that a 6.6 in the South
300 Feared Dead in Morocco Earthquake
By ALI NAJI Tuesday, February 24, 2004
RABAT, Morocco - A powerful earthquake struck northern Morocco early Tuesday,
toppling mudbrick and stone houses and killing at least 300 people, the Red
Cross said. Many of the victims were women, children, and the elderly.
The quake shook rural areas near the Mediterranean city of Al Hoceima, and
there were deep concerns about the fate of three outlying villages _ Ait
Kamara, Tamassint and Imzourn _ where 30,000 people live in mud and stone
structures unable to withstand a major natural disaster.
Josephine Shields, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said
300 were feared dead and 600 injured.
She said civil defense officials in Al Hoceima said Ait Kamara _ a village
of 6,000 _ was completely destroyed.
"The latest we have is that roughly 300 persons are feared dead and about
600 or more injured," she said in Tunis, Tunisia. "The hospital services
and health centers have been saturated."
The region hit by the quake was inhabited by a large population of non-Arab
Authorities already have counted 140 deaths in Ait Kamara.
Mohammed Ziane, a former human rights minister, said it was highly likely
that most quake victims were women, children and the elderly.
"This is a real tragedy," said Ziane, a native of Al Hoceima. "Most people
living in this area are women, children and old people. The men leave for
jobs in the Netherlands and Germany."
The death toll climbed steadily throughout the day as rescuers began reaching
the hard-hit areas and finding corpses, officials said. Some families had
already buried their dead.
King Mohammed VI, in a condolence message, promised all possible efforts
in mobilizing "human and material resources" for the stricken region. The
king called the temblor a "challenge of destiny."
Military and civilian rescuers were dispatched to the scene to help survivors
and search for victims trapped under rubble, while helicopters filled with
emergency supplies were being dispatched.
However, rescuers reported difficulties in reaching the stricken area, located
in the foothills of the Rif Mountains and served by narrow, poor roads. French
LCI television showed men with pick axes chipping their way through debris
left by flattened buildings _ while others used their bare hands _ to try
to reach trapped victims.
More than 200 relief workers from the Moroccan Red Crescent are at the scene.
"The most urgent priority is to search for survivors and give them proper
medical attention," Baddredine Bensaoud, secretary-general of the Moroccan
Red Crescent, said in a statement released by the international Red Cross
France had two rescue teams of 60 people each, with dogs and other quake
rescue abilities, standing by. It also had a separate reconnaissance team
of four fire officials waiting for orders to be dispatched.
"There is enormous damage," Mekki Elhankouri, a physician at Bades clinic
in Al Hoceima told France 2 television in a telephone interview. "There were
three-story buildings that crashed to the ground and are completely crushed."
An aftershock with a magnitude of 4.1 was felt outside Al Hoceima at 11:04
a.m. (1104 GMT), according to the official MAP news agency. It quoted the
geophysical laboratory of the National Scientific and Technical Research
The death toll was expected to rise throughout the day, the Interior Ministry
said. A physician at Mohammed V hospital in Al Hoceima told LCI there were
"many deaths and many injured."
"Most of the injured have broken bones," he said. "Houses collapsed. It was
a very, very violent jolt."
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 6.5-magnitude quake was centered
100 miles northeast of Fez, in the Mediterranean Sea. It occurred about one
mile below the seabed at 2:27 a.m., when most people were sleeping.
Al Hoceima, one of the largest cities in northern Morocco and with a large
Berber population, appeared to have been spared. The town, originally a military
garrison, was founded by the Spanish early in the 20th century. It was named
Villa Sanjuro at the time but now carries an Arabic name.
While a tourist destination because of its Mediterranean beaches, the region
suffers from extreme poverty and underdevelopment because of government neglect
after a Berber rebellion in 1960. The local economy is sustained by fishing
and by farmers who grow cannabis.
The quake _ which reverberated across the Strait of Gibraltar _ was felt
across much of southern Spain, but no damage or injuries were reported there.
News reports said it was most noticed in tall apartment buildings in southern
Andalusia and southeast Murcia. The quake was also felt in the Spanish North
African enclave of Melilla.
An unrelated temblor Monday evening shook the Alps region in southeastern
France. No injuries or damage were reported.
The last large earthquake to hit the area measured 6.0 and struck in 1994.
But Morocco's deadliest earthquake hit in 1960, when 12,000 people died in
the southern city of Agadir.
The last time a major earthquake battered North Africa was on May 21, 2003,
when more than 2,200 people were killed and 10,000 injured after a quaker
devastated northern Algeria.
Morocco is a Muslim monarchy of 31 million people.