Nearly 300 people were killed Friday night when a powerful 6.8 earthquake struck in Morocco’s High Atlas mountain for about 20 seconds, shortly after 11 pm local time. The quake destroyed part of historic Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back nearly 1,000 years which had nearly three million tourists yearly. Hundreds people were wounded. The risk of powerful aftershoks exists in the area. Most houses in the mountain village of Asni near the epicenter were damaged.The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was unusually strong for that part of Morocco. Since 1900, there have been no earthquakes M6 (magnitude 6) and larger within 500 km of this earthquake, and only 9 M5 (magnitude 5) and larger earthquakes.
Many people in the area reside in structures that are “highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking and were transformed in rubble. Shaking was also felt in the capital Rabat, some 350km north of of the High Atlas mountain. Many Moroccans spent the night on the streets in multiple cities.
UPDATE: More than 820 people were killed.