UPDATE 8 - More than 2,000 killed in powerful quake in Morocco
Strongest quake to hit North African nation in more than century, according to National Geophysical Institute
UPDATES CASUALTIES, REVISES HEADLINE
By Faruk Zorlu and Gulsen Topcu
At least 2,012 people were killed and 2,059 injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country's Interior Ministry said Saturday.
The injuries include 1,404 critical cases.
Fatalities from the magnitude-7 quake occurred in various regions, including El-Houz, Taroudant, Chichaoua, Tiznit, Marrakech, Azilal, Agadir, Casablanca and Youssoufia, the ministry said in a statement.
The quake was the strongest tremor to hit the North African country in the last century, according to Morocco’s National Geophysical Institute.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the epicenter, which hit just after 11 p.m. local time, was 75 kilometers (46.6 miles) southeast of Marrakech, at a depth of 18.5 kilometers.
The situation was said to be particularly dire in the Marrakech region where buildings were said to have collapsed and residents trapped under debris.
Media reporters said buildings, including the famous red walls that surround the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage, were damaged.
The Royal Armed Forces urged citizens to exercise caution and directed them toward safe areas to shield them from aftershocks.
Tremors were also felt in neighboring Algeria and Mauritania.
Moroccan authorities have launched an operation to deliver aid to areas struck by the earthquake, according to state news agency, MAP.
"Seven trucks loaded with blankets, camp beds and lighting equipment are ready in Al Arjat village in the northern city of Sale to be delivered to residents of affected areas,” said MAP.
The Turkish Red Crescent said it is following developments closely and was in coordination with international aid groups and others in the region.
More than 600 people were killed and many injured in 2004 when a magnitude-6.3 quake hit northeastern Morocco.
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