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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2:58 p.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Morocco declares 3 days of mourning following deadly earthquake, according to Royal Palace

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan


The minaret of a mosque stands behind damaged houses in Moulay Brahim on Saturday.
The minaret of a mosque stands behind damaged houses in Moulay Brahim on Saturday. Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Imagees

Morocco will observe three days of mourning following the deadly earthquake that struck the country, the Royal Palace said Saturday.

Flags will be flown at half-staff on all public buildings, according a statement issued by the palace.

Over 1,000 people have been killed in the earthquake, state TV reported, citing the country's interior ministry.  

2:32 p.m. ET, September 9, 2023

France activates local government funds to support quake-struck Morocco 

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan and Martin Goillandeau

France has activated local government-funded emergency aid to help earthquake-hit Morocco, the French foreign ministry said Saturday.

Funds from the Local Government External Action Fund will "support any solidarity actions in agreement with the Moroccan authorities for the benefit of the populations affected by the earthquake," the ministry said in a statement.

The fund allows all local governments throughout France, regardless of their size, to make financial contributions for emergency humanitarian operations abroad, according to the ministry.

“A number of local authorities have already approached the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs with a request for almost two million euros ($2,142,700) in aid,” the statement added.

The ministry’s statement also said “many French companies have informed the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of their intention to contribute financially or in kind to the support that France will be providing to the earthquake victims, in agreement with the Moroccan authorities.”

Looking to get involved? Here's how to help victims of the earthquake in Morocco.

1:28 p.m. ET, September 9, 2023

World leaders send condolences to Morocco, with some countries ready to assist in emergency response

From CNN staff

Residents flee their homes in Al Haouz province, Morocco on September 9.
Residents flee their homes in Al Haouz province, Morocco on September 9. Mosa'ab Elshamy/AP

The international response to the 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco on Friday night has been huge.

More than 800 people have been confirmed dead as rescue operations continue. In the midst of it, world leaders have offered their condolences and commiserations.

In a statement Saturday, US President Joe Biden said he is "deeply saddened" by the quake and that his administration is in contact with Moroccan officials: "We are working expeditiously to ensure American citizens in Morocco are safe, and stand ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people." US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also expressed his "deep sadness at the loss of life and destruction" and "heartfelt condolences" to those affected, echoing Biden's promise of assistance.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday on X, previously known as Twitter: “We are all devastated by the terrible earthquake in Morocco. France is ready to help with the rescue efforts.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi offered "sincere condolences to the brotherly Moroccan people and my brother, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, for the victims of the terrible earthquake, and my sincere wishes for the injured to recover quickly."

"I affirm the solidarity of Egypt both the government and the people are with our brothers in Morocco," el-Sisi said on his official Facebook account

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his condolences to Moroccan King Mohammed VI, Chinese state media CCTV announced Saturday, calling the earthquake “shocking.”

“On behalf of the Chinese government and people, I expressed my deepest condolences to the victims, their family and those injured,” Xi said in the statement. “I believe that, under the leadership of your majesty the King, the Moroccan government and people can definitely quickly recover from this disaster and rebuild their homes,” he said.

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky sent his "deepest condolences to HM King Mohammed VI and all Moroccans for the lives lost in the horrible earthquake. I wish those injured a fast recovery."

Russia's Vladimir Putin reached out to Morocco's king in a statement published on the Kremlin’s website, adding: "Russia shares the experiences and grief of the friendly people of Morocco.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which experienced its own horrific earthquake earlier this year — as more than 50,000 people were killed in Turkey and Syria — conveyed his "best wishes to all Moroccan people affected by the earthquake disaster in friendly and brotherly Morocco."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the G20 summit on Saturday with "heartfelt condolences" to everyone affected by the quake. He later said on his X account that he was "extremely pained by the loss of lives."

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent a message of sympathy to Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, according to a Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement. "I am deeply saddened to hear that so many precious lives were lost and so many people were affected by the earthquake. I would like to express my condolences to the victims and offer my sincere sympathies to the bereaved families,” Kishida said, also indicating his country’s willingness to offer substantial aid.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo have also said that they and their countries are "with the victims" of the tragedy.

Pope Francis on Saturday expressed his “profound solidarity” with Moroccans hit by the deadly earthquake in a telegram sent to Morocco by the Vatican's Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. “The Holy Father prays to the most high to support the people of Morocco in this ordeal and offers his encouragement to the civil authorities and rescue services,” it added.

Ready to help: Some countries say they are in touch with Morocco on how to assist the North African nation following the disaster, with Israel and the UAE already preparing to provide assistance on the ground. The United Nations has also said it will provide help.

The French ambassador to Morocco told CNN affiliate BFMTV Saturday that France is in talks with Moroccan authorities to figure out “ways to accompany Morocco in this grave crisis.”

Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical team, is mobilizing and gearing up to leave for Morocco “within the next few hours” according to a statement released Saturday.

"This earthquake demands a wide-reaching response, necessitating collaboration among numerous organizations," the director general of Magen David Adom, Eli Bin, said in the statement.

Meanwhile, the UAE’s President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan “has directed the establishment of an air bridge to deliver critical relief supplies and other forms of support to those affected by the earthquake that struck various areas of the Kingdom of Morocco.”

11:50 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Quake survivors need food, shelter and mental health assistance, disaster aid director says

The death toll from the Morocco earthquake will likely rise, and aftershocks could cause further physical and mental pain, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' Caroline Holt said Saturday.

"Not only (do aftershocks) have the potential to create further injuries to people — and broken bones and severe head injuries, etc. — but really, it creates a sense of fear amongst the population that has survived the initial trauma," said Holt, director for disaster, climate and crises at the IFRC. 

Holt told CNN it is heartening to see international solidarity at this time, and that needs to continue.

"We know that there will be a requirement of shelter, in form of tents, no doubt, in the early phases. Food and safe and clean water will also be critical to make sure that we don't see a disaster within a disaster," she said.

"People will be living outside for the foreseeable future," Holt said. In the mountainous area near the epicenter, she said it is very hot during the day, but temperatures can plunge at night, so basic shelter is required immediately to protect people from the elements.

"First aid and psychosocial support, to help with the mental health needs of people who are suffering and continue to suffer the trauma, will also be prioritized, and I can only imagine that we will see the international aid effort really start to scale up in the coming days," she added.

The Moroccan Red Crescent is working with national and local organizations on the ground to assess the biggest needs, Holt said.

"I think it is important to recognize that it's roads, transportation, it's health care, it's communication, everything is impacted by a disaster of this nature — specifically by an earthquake. So everything is complicated and it is a very complex response that will be required," she said.

11:18 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Earthquake appears to have damaged 12th-century Tinmal Mosque

From CNN's Martin Goillandeau

The Tinmal Mosque is seen damaged on September 9.
The Tinmal Mosque is seen damaged on September 9. Shared with CNN

Images show the extent of the damage left by the Morocco earthquake on the Tinmal Mosque in the High Atlas mountains, a prime example of Almohad architecture.

The 12th-century mosque served as a model for the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech and the Giralda mosque in Seville, a former Moroccan culture minister told CNN. 

The Tinmal Mosque on September 9.
The Tinmal Mosque on September 9. Shared with CNN

10:39 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Morocco vs. Liberia Africa Cup Of Nations qualifying match postponed due to earthquake

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

The Morocco vs. Liberia Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match scheduled for Saturday evening has been postponed because of the powerful earthquake that hit Morocco, the Moroccan Football Federation said in a statement.

"Following this great tragedy, the national football family extends its deepest condolences to the families of the victims, and wishes a speedy recovery to all those injured," according to the statement.

Morocco and Liberia were set to play in the final round of qualifiers for the finals of the African Cup of Nations at Stade d'Agadir in Agadir, Morocco. No makeup date was announced.

Morocco's magical run in the 2022 FIFA World Cup broke records and inspired praise across the world.

10:09 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Morocco earthquake death toll surpasses 1,000

From CNN’s Celine Alkhaldi in Abu Dhabi

People mourn in front of the bodies of earthquake victims in Moulay Brahim, Morocco on September 9.
People mourn in front of the bodies of earthquake victims in Moulay Brahim, Morocco on September 9. Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

The death toll for the Morocco earthquake has risen to 1,037, and more than 1,000 other people have been injured, according to Morocco’s state TV channel Al Aoula, which cited the interior ministry.  

The ministry said 721 people are in critical condition.

It is the deadliest earthquake to hit Morocco in decades.

10:01 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Algeria reopens airspace to and from Morocco for humanitarian aid and medical flights

From CNN’s Celine Alkhaldi and Eve Brennan  

Algeria will open its airspace for humanitarian aid and medical flights going to and from Morocco, despite the countries' strained relations, Algerian state news agency APS reported, citing a statement from the country’s president.

“Algeria expressed today, Saturday, its full readiness to provide humanitarian aid to Morocco and put all the material and human capabilities in the wake of the violent earthquake that struck this country, according to a statement by the Presidency of the Republic,” APS reported. 

“The authorities also decided Upper Algeria opened its airspace to flights to transport humanitarian aid and the wounded and injured,” it said.  

Key context: Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Morocco in 2021 and closed its airspace to all planes registered in Morocco.  

11:28 a.m. ET, September 9, 2023

Head coach of Gambian soccer team describes moment earthquake hit

From CNN’s Celine Alkhaldi and Teele Rebane

Tom Saintfiet, head coach of the Gambian national football team, speaks at a press conference in 2022.
Tom Saintfiet, head coach of the Gambian national football team, speaks at a press conference in 2022. Issouf Sang/AFP/Getty Images

Tom Saintfiet, head coach of the Gambian national football team, spoke to CNN about being in Marrakech with his team for an upcoming Africa Cup qualifier match against Congo when the earthquake hit. 

“First, I thought someone was knocking on my door, then I thought a plane crashed, because our hotel is very close to the airport. But then it got scary. Really scary. The walls were shaking, and things were falling from the ceiling,” Saintfiet told CNN. 

He gathered the members of his team, and they spent the night outside by the hotel pool. The coach says many of his players were in shock and had trouble sleeping. 

“Some of the players had actually experienced the earthquake in Turkey not too long ago and so having to go through this was a very traumatic moment for them,” he said, referencing the devastating quake from February that killed tens of thousands of people.

The team's match against Congo is scheduled for Sunday, though it’s unclear whether it will go ahead. “We don’t know if that game is going to happen still, due to the casualties, but there is a very good chance it will, and so it is a strange moment. A strange situation. We try to cope with it, we try to keep the atmosphere high," he added.