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Morocco Quake Deaths Rise To 1,300

Ilori Ogunmola, Reporting

AMID three days mourning period already declared, the huge earthquake which hit Morocco overnight has killed more than 1,300 people and injured at least another 1,800, many of them critically, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

A total of 1,305 people have now been confirmed dead, while 1,832 people were injured, of whom 1,220 are in critical condition, a ministry statement added.

Three days of national mourning were declared in an announcement from the royal palace.

“Three days of national mourning have been decided, with flags to fly at half-mast on all public buildings,” said a statement published by the official MAP news agency after King Mohammed VI chaired a meeting to discuss the disaster.

The meeting was held after Friday night’s earthquake, the deadliest to hit the North African country in decades, hit southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh, killing at least 1,037 people and injuring another 1,204, many of them critically.

After being briefed by officials, the king ordered the immediate establishment of a “commission responsible for the deployment of an emergency rehabilitation and aid programme on rebuilding destroyed housing in disaster areas” and “the care of distressed people, particularly orphans and the vulnerable”.

He also ordered that “accommodation, food and all other basic needs” be made available to those who needed it, as well as the establishment of a special account at the central bank for aid donations.

The 6.8-magnitude quake struck a mountainous area 72 kilometres (45 miles) southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh at 11:11 pm (2211 GMT) Friday, the US Geological Survey reported.

Strong tremors were also felt in the coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca and Essaouira.

AFP

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