The 6.8 magnitude quake struck near Marrakech late on Friday night. The death toll is expected to keep climbing as rescue teams carry out their work.
A rare, powerful earthquake struck Morocco late on Friday night, killing over 1,000 people and damaging buildings from villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakech.
The Moroccan government said the death toll has reached at least 1,037, with more than 1,200 injured.
The number of casualties is expected to climb as the emergency services work through the rubble and rescue teams reach more remote areas.
Moroccans posted videos showing buildings reduced to rubble and dust, and parts of the famous red walls that surround the old city in Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site, damaged.
Men, women and children stayed out in the streets, fearing aftershocks.
The head of a town near the earthquake’s epicentre told Moroccan news site 2M that several homes in nearby towns had partly or totally collapsed, and electricity and roads were cut off in some places.
The Ministry of the Interior wrote that most damage occurred outside of cities and towns.
Local media reported that roads leading to the mountain region around the epicentre were jammed with vehicles and blocked with collapsed rocks, slowing rescue efforts.
As his country hosts two days of G20 talks in New Dehli, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “extremely pained by the loss of lives,” adding “my thoughts are with the people of Morocco.”
Pope Francis also expressed solidarity with those affected by the disaster.
“The pope expresses his profound solidarity with those who are touched in the flesh and heart by this tragedy,” the Vatican’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said on Telegram.
Earthquakes are relatively rare in North Africa. Lahcen Mhanni, Head of the Seismic Monitoring and Warning Department at the National Institute of Geophysics, told 2M TV that the earthquake was the strongest ever recorded in the mountain region.
In 1960, a magnitude 5.8 tremor struck near the Moroccan city of Agadir and caused thousands of deaths.