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Rescue workers search for survivors in a collapsed house in Moulay Brahim, Al Haouz province, on September 9, 2023, after an earthquake. Morocco's deadliest earthquake in decades has killed at least 820 people, officials said on September 9, causing widespread damage and sending terrified residents and tourists scrambling to safety in the middle of the night. (Photo by Fadel SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Morocco death toll rises to 2,000 after rare, destructive earthquake strikes country

The earthquake caused at least 1,404 critical injuries

At least 2,012 people in Morocco died after a rare, catastrophic earthquake struck the North African country late Friday night.

The magnitude 6.8 earthquake also injured at least 2,059 people, according to Morocco’s Interior Ministry. 1,404 of those injuries were considered critical.

The death toll is expected to rise as first responders struggle to reach remote villages in the country. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI instructed his military to conduct search and rescue missions and operate surgical field hospitals to assist remote villagers.

Man walking near rubble in Morocco

A man walks past destroyed houses after an earthquake in the mountain village of Tafeghaghte, southwest of the city of Marrakesh, on September 9, 2023.  (FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

The earthquake was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria. Despite the severe destruction, Morocco has not yet formally asked other countries for assistance.

Earthquakes are considered rare in North Africa: the Moroccan cities of Al Hoceima and Agadir were hit by earthquakes in 2004 and 1960, respectively.  The earthquake in Al Hoceima had a magnitude of 6.4, while Agadir’s was 5.8.

Moroccans sitting near tent

People, whose buildings are destroyed after a 7 magnitude earthquake, try to settle in empty areas in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. ( Abu Adem Muhammed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The quake hit Marrakesh hard, ruining several historical buildings in the city. The city’s Koutoubia Mosque, which dates back to the 12th century, was damaged to an unknown extent.

The ancient red walls that surround the Medina of Marrakesh – a UNESCO World Heritage site – were also damaged by the quake.

Rubble in Moroccan village

Rescue workers dig through rubble after an earthquake in the mountain village of Tafeghaghte, southwest of the city of Marrakesh, on September 9, 2023. (FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

“The problem is that where destructive earthquakes are rare, buildings are simply not constructed robustly enough to cope with strong ground shaking, so many collapse, resulting in high casualties,” Univ