A devastating earthquake in Morocco has left nearly 3,000 people dead, thousands more injured, and damaged some 50,000 homes. Many of those homes are in remote mountain villages – and winter is fast approaching.
On this page learn more about the earthquake in Morocco, and how ShelterBox is helping.
What is happening in Morocco
A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco late on Friday 8th September 2023, 70km south of Marrakesh. It’s the strongest recorded in the region and was felt as far as Portugal and Algeria.
The earthquake hit just after 11pm local time, under the cover of darkness. Many people would have been asleep.
Many of the worst hit areas are in villages in the Atlas Mountains close to the epicentre. There are large distances between the villages and getting aid to people will be challenging. Some roads in the mountains are still partially blocked by rubble, road conditions are becoming worse, and aftershocks are continuing. Winter is also coming. It poses a threat to communities higher in the mountains who have been left without adequate shelter.
Where is Morocco?
Morocco is in northwest Africa. It borders the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Algeria sits on its eastern border. South lies the territory of the Western Sahara.
A large proportion of Morocco is mountainous. The Atlas Mountains are located in the centre and south of the country. Many of the worst affected villages by the earthquake are found here. The damage to villages that ShelterBox team members have visited is severe. There are rocks and rubble everywhere you look. Homes have collapsed on the side of the mountain, leaving people with little option but to sleep out in the open or in communal tents.
The remoteness of the affected communities adds to the challenges of bringing aid to those who need it.
Has ShelterBox responded in Morocco before?
ShelterBox has not responded in Morocco before.
Morocco hasn’t seen a crisis on this scale for a long time, so we’re taking the necessary steps to get our aid into the country – and that takes time.
We have response team members in the country with supply chain expertise, navigating the necessary logistics to get aid into the country and to the people we’re supporting.
There are large distances between mountain villages. Getting aid to affected communities will be challenging.
How is ShelterBox helping?
ShelterBox is responding in Morocco, supporting thousands of people left homeless by the earthquake. We’re working hard to get tents, thermal blankets, solar lights, and kitchen sets to communities without adequate shelter in mountain villages.
Our aid items are designed to be used for months not weeks. We are using our experience of responding to earthquakes in colder winter climates – like in Türkiye and Syria – to shape this response.
We’re liaising closely with the government and the local authorities to support people living in remote areas. We are also working with Rotary in Morocco, District 9010 in the affected region and have had meetings together in Marrakesh. They are providing vital support with transport and accessing warehouse space near the communities we’re supporting.
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The epicentre of the Morocco earthquake was near the town of Ighil, roughly 70km south of Marrakesh.
It was followed minutes later by a 4.9 magnitude aftershock.
The devastating 6.8m earthquake struck Morocco at 11:11pm local time on Friday 8th September 2023.
The USGS said the epicentre was 18 kilometres (11 miles) below the Earth’s surface.
Morocco’s seismic agency put it at 8 kilometres (5 miles) down. In either case, such shallow quakes are more dangerous.
The death toll in Morocco is nearly 3,000 people.
Buildings have been reduced to rubble. Most of the damage has happened outside of the cities and towns in harder to reach areas. Half a million people have been displaced in the country.
Earthquakes are relatively rare in North Africa. A magnitude 5.8 tremor struck near Agadir and caused thousands of deaths in 1960.
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