In the late hours of September 8th, an earthquake with a magnitude of at least 6.8 tore through the countryside near Marrakech, Morocco to a catastrophic degree. The quake demolished homes across the High Atlas Mountains and cracked many of the city’s ancient structures. ​​The death toll is expected to climb as rescue teams, trapped behind mountainous terrain and roads littered with debris, attempt  to reach all the damaged areas.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the shaking could be felt as far as Spain and Portugal, more than 550 miles away. The disaster is the deadliest earthquake in Morocco since a 5.9-magnitude quake in 1960 tore through the coastal city of Agadir, about 150 miles southwest of Marrakesh, killing at least 12,000 people and leaving thousands homeless. 

As a popular tourist destination, Marrakesh, and its environs, are the nucleus of the country’s $134 billion economy, alongside agriculture. This natural disaster could be detrimental to the Moroccan economy, which is already coping with a drought and rising commodity prices. 

Moroccan authorities have deployed military and civilian responders to rescue survivors, clear roadways, and build emergency housing. The government has also stated it will invest billions of Moroccan dirhams — equivalent to hundreds of millions of dollars — to rehabilitate shattered roads and damaged schools.

Some Moroccans, however,  have scrutinized government action, calling it dangerously ineffective by wasting time that could’ve been used to save lives. Rescue teams took several days to find some victims — who reported feeling as though they had been left behind by the authorities. Almost four days after the deadly quake, many in the affected zones still had no electricity or running water. 

Experts say the first three days after an earthquake constitute a “golden window” to save those trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings. Furthermore, relief workers say displaced Moroccans run the risk of disease and heat exposure in the makeshift tent camps that now line roads south of Marrakesh.

With nearly 3,000 deaths and over 5,000 injured, Morocco is struggling to stay afloat amidst this treacherous natural disaster. 

Sophomore Anna Chiaradonna is the Campus Life Editor. Her email is