Rare and Deadly

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More than 2,100 people died following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Morocco over the weekend, a death toll authorities believe will rise as they scramble to find survivors and reach rural areas that suffered the worst from the natural disaster, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The tremor began in the areas south of Marrakesh on Friday night and was felt in other coastal cities, such as Casablanca, and as far away as Portugal – a distance of more than 400 miles.

Officials described the situation as “catastrophic,” with more than 2,400 people injured and widespread power and telephone blackouts. They added that unreinforced buildings in rural areas were flattened and that authorities are trying to create paths to access remote villages.

The World Health Organization estimated that at least 300,000 people were affected by the quake.

Moroccan King Mohamed VI ordered the government to quickly provide shelter, rebuild houses, and deliver supplies to people impacted by the disaster. His announcement, however, came 18 hours after the earthquake occurred, which analysts said stirred “a lot of social anger” among Moroccans.

Meanwhile, the international community offered help to the North African country.

Marrakesh, with its ancient medina, is a popular tourist destination and was mostly spared. A few buildings collapsed and one of the city’s historic mosques was damaged, according to Moroccan officials.

Large quakes are rare in Morocco, according to the United States Geological Survey, with none of this magnitude in the region for more than a century.

But the country’s High Atlas Mountains have fault zones that make them prone to tremors. The recent quake took place within the African Plate, about 340 miles south of the boundary between the Africa and Eurasia plates.

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