At least 296 people have been killed following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Morocco, officials have said.
Many of the fatalities are said to be in hard-to-reach areas south of Marrakech.
Image: Many buildings have been reduced to rubble in Marrakech. Pic: Al Oula TV The earthquake struck late on Friday – damaging buildings in major cities and sending panicked people pouring into the streets.
At least 153 people were injured and are being treated in hospital.
Image: A car is covered in dust in Marrakech. Pic: Al Oula TV Witnesses in Marrakech told the Reuters news agency that some buildings have collapsed, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Big cracks were seen in a section of the medieval city’s walls.
Local television stations broadcast pictures of a fallen mosque minaret, with rubble lying on smashed cars. Others were seen screaming as they ran out of shopping centres and restaurants.
Image: Buildings – and Marrakech’s famous medieval wall – have been damaged. Pic: Al Oula TV According to the al Arabiya news channel, five of those killed were members of the same family.
Montasir Itri, a resident in the mountain village of Asni not far from the epicentre, said most houses were damaged – adding: “Our neighbours are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village.”
Image: Pic: Al Oula TV Aftershocks have been reported – with men, women and children staying out in the streets, frightened of further quakes.
According to the US Geological Survey, the epicentre was high in the Atlas Mountains – about 43 miles (70km) away from Marrakech, a popular tourist destination.
Image: People gather on a street in Casablanca following the powerful earthquake The USGS added that it was at a relatively shallow depth of 11.5 miles (18km).
This is one of Morocco’s strongest earthquakes in years – and although they are relatively rare, a 5.8 magnitude tremor in 1960 caused thousands of deaths.
It was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria.