Powerful earthquake hits Morocco, scale of damage unclear
A powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake in Morocco tumbled buildings and sent people fleeing their homes in several cities late on Friday, residents said, but the scale of damage nearest the epicentre in the High Atlas mountains was not immediately clear.
Residents of Marrakech, the nearest major city to the epicentre, said some buildings had collapsed. Pan-Arab al-Arabiya news channel reported that five people were killed from one family, citing unnamed local sources.
The quake's epicenter was at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5 km and occurred about 72 km (44 miles) southwest of Marrakech and 56 km west of the town of Oukaimeden just after 11 p.m. local time (2200 GMT), according to the United States Geological Survey.
The epicentre's area in the High Atlas Mountains, known as Ighil, is a region of small farming villages.
There was no immediate comment from local emergency or government officials on Moroccan media and Reuters could not immediately reach any for contact.
In Marrakech, some houses in the tightly packed old city have collapsed and people were working hard by hand to remove debris while they waited for heavy equipment, said local resident Id Waaziz Hassan.
Another Marrakech resident, Brahim Himmi, said he saw ambulances coming out of the old town and that many building facades were damaged. He said people were frightened and were staying outside in case of another quake.
People in Rabat, about 350km north of Ighil, and in the coastal town of Imsouane, about 180km to its west, also fled their homes, fearing a stronger quake, according to Reuters witnesses.
Some videos shared on social media, which Reuters could not immediately verify, appeared to show at least one building collapsing and rubble in the streets.
Others showed people running out of a shopping center, restaurants and apartment buildings and congregating outside.
Reporting by Ahmed El Jechtimi in Rabat; additional reporting by Alexander Cornwell in Imsouane and Jose Joseph in Bengaluru; writing by Angus McDowall; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Rosalba O'Brien