President Bola Tinubu has extended his condolences to King Mohammed VI of Morocco aftet a devastating earthquake killed over a thousand people Saturday.
Presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale, in a statement on Saturday in Abuja conveyed the President’s commiseration with all the families who lost loved ones and those affected by the tragedy, while wishing a full and swift recovery to those who were injured.
Tinubu assured the government and people of Morocco that the heartfelt prayers and thoughts of Nigerians were with them during this difficult moment of tragedy.
“In the face of this adversity, Nigeria will continue to stand in solidarity with Morocco as they recover, rebuild and come out stronger than ever from this unfortunate event”, the president said.
The 6.8-magnitude quake struck a mountainous area 72 kilometres, 45 miles, southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh at 11:11 pm, 2211 GMT, Friday, the US Geological Survey reported
Strong tremors were also felt in the coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca and Essaouira.
A Casablanca resident in her 80s, Ghannou Najem who was visiting Marrakesh when the quake hit said; “I was nearly asleep when I heard the doors and the shutters banging.
“I went outside in a panic. I thought I was going to die alone”.
It is the strongest-ever quake to hit the North African kingdom, one expert described it as the region’s “biggest in more than 120 years”.
“Where destructive earthquakes are rare, buildings are simply not constructed robustly enough, so many collapse, resulting in high casualties”, said professor emeritus at Britain’s University College London, Bill McGuire.
Updated interior ministry figures on Saturday showed the quake killed at least 1,037 people, the vast majority in Al-Haouz, the epicentre and Taroudant provinces.
Another 1,204 people were injured, including 721 in a critical condition, the ministry said.
The ministry also recorded deaths in Ouarzazate, Chichaoua, Azilal and Youssoufia provinces as well as in Marrakesh, Agadir and the Casablanca area.
An engineer, Faisal Badour said he felt the quake three times in his building in Marrakesh.
“There are families who are still sleeping outside because we were so scared of the force of this earthquake, The screaming and crying was unbearable”, he added.
In Moulay Brahim village, in the mountains of Al-Haouz province near the quake’s epicentre, rescuers were searching for survivors in the rubble of collapsed houses, AFP correspondents reported.
The correspondent added that on a nearby hill, residents began digging graves for the victims.
Frenchman Michael Bizet, 43, who owns three traditional riad houses in Marrakesh’s old town, told AFP that he was in bed when the quake struck.
“I thought my bed was going to fly away. I went out into the street half-naked and immediately went to see my riads. It was total chaos, a real catastrophe, madness”, he said.
Footage on social media showed part of a minaret collapsed on Jemaa el-Fna square in the historic city.
A local resident in the city, Houda Outassaf said she was “still in shock” after feeling the earth shake beneath her feet and losing relatives.
“I have at least 10 members of my family who died… I can hardly believe it, as I was with them no more than two days ago,” she said.
The interior ministry said authorities have “mobilised all the necessary resources to intervene and help the affected areas”.
The regional blood transfusion centre in Marrakesh called on residents to donate blood for those injured.
The army has also set up a field hospital in Moulay Brahim and deployed “significant human and logistical resources” to support search and rescue efforts in Al-Haouz, state news agency MAP said.