A POWERFUL earthquake on Friday night left hundreds dead in Morocco, according to information released by the North African country’s Interior Ministry. At least 820 people have been killed and 672 injured, the government stated. Some 205 of the injured were reported to be in a critical condition.

The tremor, measuring 7 on the Richter scale, struck at 11.11pm local time, an hour later in Spain. The worst-affected areas are Al Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant, according to agencies and Spanish press reports. 

The epicentre of the earthquake was detected in Ighil at a depth of 18 kilometres. That small town is around 72 kilometres southwest of Marrakesh. 

The earthquake was also felt in Spain, in particular in the south of the peninsula and the Canary Islands. Cordoba, Malaga, Huelva and Santa Cruz de la Palma are among the areas where residents reported the ground shaking.

Emergency services were searching for survivors on Saturday morning, according to the Interior Ministry, while the injured were being taken to local hospitals. 

The authorities called for calm among the public, and also mobilised the security forces and civil protection to the affected areas, Spanish daily El Pais reported. 

The powerful earthquake was felt across nearly all of the country, prompting residents of the capital, Rabat, out onto the streets. There was little damage to the structure of buildings there, however. 

Spain’s National Geographic Institute (IGN) also reported a second tremor measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale in the city of Berrechid. 

The earthquake was also felt in provinces in the west of neighbouring Algeria, but the authorities reported no victims or damage.

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