September 9, 2023 Earthquake hits Morocco

By Chris Lau, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Andrew Raine, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 0408 GMT (1208 HKT) September 10, 2023
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4:58 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu instructs all government bodies to provide assistance to Morocco

From CNN’s Hadas Gold in Jerusalem and Xiaofei Xu

Israel has become the latest country to offer help. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed government bodies to mobilize to provide assistance to Morocco, including preparing to send an aid delegation, Netanyahu’s office announced Saturday.

“The Prime Minister said that the people of Israel stand with our friends, the people of Morocco, during this difficult hour and prays for their well being, and that we will help in any way needed,” the office said in a statement.

Morocco established full formal diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords.

3:59 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Earthquake death toll rises to 632

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

A woman looks at the rubble of a building in the earthquake-damaged old city in Marrakesh on September 9.
A woman looks at the rubble of a building in the earthquake-damaged old city in Marrakesh on September 9. Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

The death toll for the Morocco earthquake has risen to 632, with 329 people injured, Morocco’s state-run TV station Al Aoula has said, citing the Ministry of Interior. 

Fifty-one people are in critical condition, Al Aoula said.

3:23 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Expert tells CNN he expects multiple strong aftershocks

From CNN's Chris Lau

A damaged vehicle in Marrakech, Morocco, on September 9.
A damaged vehicle in Marrakech, Morocco, on September 9. Abdelhak Balhaki/Reuters

One expert has told CNN he expects multiple strong aftershocks given the intensity of the magnitude 6.8 quake that struck Morocco late on Friday night.

Jonathan Stewart, a professor of civil and environmental engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, said he expected the magnitude of these aftershocks to be in the "high fives."

Another possibility, though very slim, was that Friday night's temblor could be a precursor to an even stronger quake, he said.

Stewart said that while the quake was 30 times weaker than the 7.8 magnitude quake that hit Turkey earlier this year, it still released “a tremendous amount of energy” and was likely to do substantial damage.

He said the epicenter of the Morocco earthquake was in a mid-plate region, which is relatively unusual for a major temblor.

“As far as where it happened to occur, it really is a roll of the dice,” he said, adding that it could have been worse if the epicenter had been closer to Marrakech.

Even so, he warned that for vulnerable structures like unreinforced masonry structures and non-dental concrete, "we can expect significant damage."

4:01 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

UN says it's ready to help Morocco following earthquake

A view of rubble and damaged buildings in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9.
A view of rubble and damaged buildings in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9. Said Echarif/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The United Nations is ready to help the Moroccan government following the strong earthquake that hit the country, the organization announced Saturday.

“The secretary-general was profoundly saddened to learn of the earthquake that hit Morocco today which claimed many lives,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN chief said in a statement.  

“The secretary-general expresses his solidarity with the government and people of Morocco in these difficult times. He addresses his most sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured,” the statement added.

Some context: The epicenter of the quake was in the High Atlas mountains located about 72 kilometers (44.7 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a city of some 840,000 people and a popular tourist destination. State-run Al-Aoula television has reported nearly 300 deaths.

1:39 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

France expresses solidarity with Morocco over earthquake 

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris 

France has expressed solidarity with “Morocco and the friendly Moroccan people” following the “terrible” earthquake that shook the country. 

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and we admire the work of the rescuers who are tirelessly helping the injured,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna wrote on X, previously known as Twitter, on Saturday. 

Shortly after the quake, the French Embassy opened a crisis center in the north African country, where 30,000 of its citizens live.

Officials have told CNN that so far no French casualties have been reported.

1:53 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

India's Modi inaugurates G20 summit by sending condolences to Morocco

From CNN's Rhea Mogul

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waits to welcome the leaders of the G20 countries at the Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on September 9.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waits to welcome the leaders of the G20 countries at the Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on September 9. Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday began his Group of 20 (G20) inauguration speech by offering his "heartfelt condolences to everyone affected" by Morocco's deadly earthquake.

"It is my wish that all the injured people recover quickly," Modi said.
"In this difficult time, my thoughts are with Morocco, and we are prepared to offer every possible assistance."

Modi is hosting several world leaders this weekend in India's capital New Delhi, where some of the world's most pressing economic and environmental issues are expected to be discussed.

Among those attending the summit are US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is not attending, with Beijing giving no reason for the surprise miss.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who cannot risk travel in case of arrest, will remain in Moscow, instead sending his foreign minister to represent the Kremlin.

1:18 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

European leaders send condolences over 'devastating' Morocco earthquake 

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris and Benjamin Brown in Marrakech 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have sent condolences to the people of Morocco from the sidelines of the G20 summit they are attending in India.

“This is terrible news from Morocco. In these difficult hours, our thoughts are with the victims of the devastating earthquake,” Scholz wrote Saturday on X, previously known as Twitter. 

Von der Leyen also expressed her sympathy. 

 “My heart goes out to the Moroccan people in the face of the terrible earthquake that took hundreds of lives last night,” von der Leyen wrote on X in French. 

She said her thoughts were with the families of the victims and those injured, wished them a speedy recovery, and praised rescuers for their "admirable job".

12:57 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

US Geological Survey raises death and damage assessments on Morocco quake

By CNN's Jonny Hallam

People look at debris in the aftermath of an earthquake in Marrakech, Morocco, on September 9.
People look at debris in the aftermath of an earthquake in Marrakech, Morocco, on September 9. Al Maghribi Al Youm/Handout via Reuters

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has upgraded its assessment on shake-related casualties from "possible" to "significant casualties are likely."

There was a 34% chance that between 100-1,000 people would have perished following Friday's powerful tremor, it said.

The US body also ramped up its assessment of economic losses. "Extensive damage is probable and the disaster is likely widespread," it said.

"Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking," USGS said.

While some resistant structures do exist, the most vulnerable buildings are adobe block and unreinforced brick with mud construction, it noted.

Some context: State television channels have reported that nearly 300 people have died from the quake.

12:33 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Morocco urges people to donate blood following deadly earthquake

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

Morocco's Blood Transfusion and Hematology Center is calling on people to donate blood to help victims in need following Friday's earthquake, the country's state-run TV said on Saturday.

The center said the number and type of injuries meant the blood bags were needed as soon as possible.