By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Authorities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have expressed sympathy with Morocco over a powerful earthquake on Friday night that killed and injured hundreds of persons.
The earthquake struck Morocco’s High Atlas mountains, killing at least 820 people and injuring over 600 others, destroying buildings and causing panic among residents as they deserted their homes.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia offered its condolences to the families of the victims and wished them a speedy recovery, official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
Similarly, the UAE has also voiced its solidarity with Morocco and offered sincere condolences to the families of the victims.
UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan also ordered the establishment of an air bridge to deliver critical relief supplies and aid to those affected by the powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, state news agency WAM reported on Saturday.
“The initiative reaffirms the deep-rooted ties between the UAE and Morocco and underscores the UAE’s enduring disaster response efforts and commitment to strengthening global solidarity, particularly with those in need,” the WAM report said.
Local media in Morocco reported that roads leading to the mountain region around the epicenter of the earthquake were blocked with vehicles and collapsed rocks, slowing rescue efforts.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 when it hit at 11:11 p.m. (2211 GMT), with shaking that lasted several seconds. The US agency reported a magnitude-4.9 aftershock hit 19 minutes later.
The epicenter of Friday’s tremor was near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province, about 70 kilometers south of Marrakech.
The USGS said the epicenter was 18 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, while Morocco’s seismic agency puts it at 8 kilometers down.