The recent deadly Morocco earthquake, claiming over 2,000 lives, raises safety concerns for autumn travelers, with the epicenter located near Marrakech, a major tourist destination. Witnesses describe damaged structures and chaotic scenes during the 6.8 magnitude quake, impacting both residents and tourists. Despite ongoing flights, travelers are urged to consult with carriers, as no government advisory is in place, and cancellation may result in financial loss.
In the wake of Morocco’s most devastating earthquake in decades, with a death toll surpassing 2,000, travelers planning to visit the North African country during the cooler autumn hiking season are questioning the safety and appropriateness of their plans.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the Atlas Mountains, just 72 kilometers (45 miles) outside the popular tourist destination of Marrakech, which annually attracts 4.3 million visitors, as reported by the Moroccan Tourism Observatory.
Reports indicate that several 12th-century structures have been damaged, with disturbing footage showing clouds of dust and piles of rubble. The U.S. Geological Survey noted that an earthquake of this magnitude had not been experienced in the region for 120 years.
TERREMOTO EN MARRUECOS
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According to flight data analyzed by The Independent, an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 UK holidaymakers alone are currently in the affected area, with many staying in the historic heart of Marrakech or in modern hotels on its outskirts.
Eyewitnesses, including residents and tourists, have recounted hair-raising experiences during the earthquake, which registered at a magnitude of 6.8. Marrakech resident Abdelhak El Amrani described feeling a violent tremor and witnessing buildings sway. French tourist Michael Bizet shared his experience of chaos, catastrophe, and panic on the streets.
In the mountainous areas closer to the earthquake’s epicenter, emergency responders face significant challenges in accessing villages due to the already difficult terrain, compounded by rubble and damaged roads. This situation not only endangers local communities but also raises concerns for foreign hikers and trekkers drawn to the High Atlas landscape as the scorching summer temperatures subside.
Residents of Asni, located 48 kilometers (30 miles) south of Marrakech in the Atlas foothills, reported being thrown out of their beds and witnessing the collapse of mud-brick houses, along with the development of fatal cracks in others.
Despite the earthquake, Moroccan airports continue to operate, and airlines like British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, and TUI have maintained flights, with some offering larger aircraft for early or unexpected departures. The Independent reports that there are currently no plans for airlifts, and travelers should anticipate their scheduled flights, unless otherwise informed.
Travelers have been advised to discuss their travel plans with their respective carriers, most of which have adopted a flexible approach. Some travelers, like Dominik Huber, express hesitancy about leaving, citing safety and the desire to support the Moroccan people during this challenging time.
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With no government advisory against travel to Morocco, holiday companies like TUI are directing travelers to communicate their needs with representatives. However, as The Independent highlights, travelers who opt not to travel before their holiday company decides are at risk of losing most or all of their money.
While some may be concerned about aftershocks or imposing on a nation facing a crisis, others, like Dominik Huber, see their presence as a means of contributing, even if in a small way, to support the Moroccan population.
Morocco Earthquake History
Morocco is located in a seismically active region, and earthquakes have occurred in the country throughout its history. The frequency and intensity of earthquakes can vary over time.
Here are a few notable earthquakes in Morocco’s history:
1960 Agadir Earthquake: This devastating earthquake struck on February 29, 1960, in the city of Agadir and is one of the most destructive earthquakes in Moroccan history. It had a magnitude estimated at 5.7 to 6.1 and caused widespread destruction, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives.
1994 Atlas Mountains Earthquake: This earthquake occurred on August 24, 1994, in the Atlas Mountains region of Morocco. It had a magnitude of 5.8 and caused significant damage to villages and infrastructure in the area.
2004 Al Hoceima Earthquake: On February 24, 2004, a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck near the city of Al Hoceima in northern Morocco. It caused substantial damage and resulted in several fatalities.
2016 Al Hoceima Earthquake: A significant earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck near Al Hoceima on January 25, 2016. It led to concerns about building safety and prompted efforts to improve earthquake preparedness in the region.
These are some of the noteworthy earthquakes that have impacted Morocco in the past. It’s important to note that seismic activity is ongoing in the region, and Morocco continues to monitor and prepare for future earthquakes. For the latest information on earthquakes in Morocco, it’s advisable to refer to geological agencies and authorities responsible for seismic monitoring.
Before traveling, check with reputable sources for the latest information on seismic activity and potential risks in the Morocco region. Local government websites, geological agencies, and travel advisories can provide valuable information.