The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 6.8, occurred 72 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of the popular tourist destination of Marrakesh at 11:11 pm (2211 GMT), as reported by the US Geological Survey.
The tremors were strongly felt in coastal cities like Rabat, Casablanca, and Essaouira, causing widespread panic and forcing residents to flee their homes. Abdelhak El Amrani, a resident of Marrakesh, described the terrifying experience of seeing buildings sway and people in shock and panic. Power outages and disrupted telephone networks added to the chaos, prompting many to remain outside for safety.
Initial reports indicated that the earthquake resulted in 632 fatalities, with more than half occurring in Al-Haouz and Taroudant provinces. Additional deaths were reported in Ouarzazate, Chichaoua, Azilal, Youssoufia provinces, as well as in Marrakesh, Agadir, and the Casablanca area. Furthermore, 329 individuals sustained injuries, including 51 in critical condition.
Faisal Baddour, an engineer, described the panic and chaos that ensued after the earthquake, with people taking to the streets and some families choosing to sleep outdoors for fear of aftershocks. Frenchman Michael Bizet, an owner of riad houses in Marrakesh's old town, recounted the sensation of his bed shaking and the subsequent chaos in the city.
Videos shared on social media showed collapsed walls and damaged buildings, including a minaret on Jemaa el-Fna square in Marrakesh. In the aftermath of the earthquake, hundreds of people gathered in the square to spend the night, seeking safety from potential aftershocks.
The interior ministry stated that authorities had mobilized necessary resources to aid affected areas, and the regional blood transfusion center in Marrakesh appealed for blood donations to assist the injured. Reports emerged of a family trapped in the rubble of their collapsed house in the town of Al-Haouz, near the epicenter.