A powerful earthquake that shook Morocco kılled more than 600 people, interior ministry figures showed, sending terrified residents fleeing their homes in the middle of the night.
The 6.8-magnitude quake struck 72 kilometres (45 miles) southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh at 11:11 pm (2211 GMT), the US Geological Survey reported.
Strong tremors were also felt in the coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca and Essaouira.
“We felt a very violent tremor, and I realised it was an earthquake,” Abdelhak El Amrani, a 33-year-old in Marrakesh, told reporters.
“I could see buildings moving. We don’t necessarily have the reflexes for this type of situation. Then I went outside and there were a lot of people there. People were all in shock and panic. The children were crying and the parents were distraught.”
“The power went out for 10 minutes, and so did the (telephone) network, but then it came back on,” he added. “Everyone decided to stay outside.”
Updated interior ministry figures on Saturday showed the quake killed 632 people, more than half of them in Al Haouz and Taroudant provinces. The ministry also recorded deaths in Ouar zazate, Chichaoua, Azilal and Youssoufia provinces, as well as in Marrakesh, Agadir, and the Casablanca area.
Another 329 people were injured, including 51 in a critical condition, the ministry said.
Internet connectivity was disrupted in Marrakesh due to power cuts, a ccording to global internet monitor NetBlocks.
Moroccan media reported it was the most powerful earthquake to hit the country to date.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz offered condolences, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “pained” by news of the quake.
The earthquake was also felt in neighbouring Algeria, where the Algerian Civil Defence said it had not caused any damage or casualties.
In 2004, at least 628 people were killed and 926 injured when a quake hit Al Hoceima in northeastern Morocco, and in 1960 a magnitude 6.7 quake in Agadir killed more than 12,000.
The 7.3-magnitude El Asnam earthquake in neighbouring Algeria in 1980 was regionally one of the most destructive earthquakes in recent history.
It killed 2,500 people and left at least 300,000 homeless.