What happened 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 were in villages in the Atlas Mountains close to the epicentre. There are large distances between the villages and getting aid to people was challenging. Some roads in the mountains were partially blocked by rubble, and aftershocks continued after the earthquake. Winter was also coming. It posed a threat to communities higher in the mountains who were left without adequate shelter.

Map of Morocco showing location of earthquake

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 visited was severe. There were rocks and rubble everywhere you looked. Homes 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 added to the challenges of bringing aid to those who needed it.

People walking through rubble after the earthquake in Morocco
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ShelterBox team members visited areas affected by the earthquake in Morocco to plan our response

Had ShelterBox responded in Morocco before?

ShelterBox had not responded in Morocco before the earthquake.

Morocco hadn’t seen a crisis on this scale for a long time, so we took the necessary steps to get our aid into the country.

We sent response team members to the country with supply chain expertise, navigating the necessary logistics to get aid into the country and to the people we supported.

With large distances between mountain villages, getting aid to affected communities was challenging.

Three children in winter clothing standing outside a tent against the landscape in Syria

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Number of people sitting under trees in the Atlas mountains, Morocco following the earthquake there
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Meeting with people affected by the earthquake has helped plan our response in Morocco

How did ShelterBox help?

ShelterBox responded in Morocco, supporting thousands of people left homeless by the earthquake. We worked hard to get tents, thermal blankets, solar lights, and kitchen sets to communities without adequate shelter in mountain villages.

Our aid items were designed to be used for months not weeks. We used our experience of responding to earthquakes in colder winter climates – like in Türkiye and Syria – to shape this response.

We liaised closely with the government and the local authorities to support people living in remote areas. We are also worked with Rotary in Morocco, District 9010 in the affected region and had meetings with them in Marrakesh. They provided vital support with transport and accessing warehouse space near the communities we supported.

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Morocco earthquake – key facts

Where was the earthquake in Morocco?

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.

When did the earthquake hit Morocco?

The devastating 6.8m earthquake struck Morocco at 11:11pm local time on Friday 8th September 2023.

Where was the epicentre of the Morocco Earthquake?

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.

Who was affected by the earthquake in Morocco?

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.

Are earthquakes common in Morocco?

Earthquakes are relatively rare in North Africa. A magnitude 5.8 tremor struck near Agadir and caused thousands of deaths in 1960.

Where will my donation go?

When giving to ShelterBox you are contributing to a general donation fund.

Your support today will contribute to part of our General Fund. We believe that the best way for us to be impactful is by staying flexible, and it is essential that we have funds available to support those affected by disasters around the world.

Portrait of Pakistani man standing outside emergency tent
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When severe flooding caused devastation across the north and south of Pakistan, father of four, Abdul, lost his home and his livelihood. After receiving a ShelterBox tent, Abdul and his family told us they were joyful to have a roof over their heads.

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Right now we’re working to support communities in Gaza, Malawi, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Somalia, Ethiopia, Chad, Libya and Mozambique.

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