MANILA – No Filipino was reported hurt in Morocco after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 late Friday (local time).
In a text message on Saturday morning, Philippine Ambassador to Morocco Leslie Baja said the embassy continues to monitor the situation as reports come in from local authorities.
“An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 occurred about 82 kilometers southwest of Marrakech. Embassy people are ok. We are checking the situation of the Filipino community,” Baja told the Philippine News Agency (PNA). “This far, (there are) no reports of injuries.”
Local reports citing Morocco’s Interior Ministry said fatalities have eached 296 while about 153 were injured and sent to the hospital.
The tremor, which damaged historic buildings, was also felt in several cities across Morocco, including the capital Rabat.
The United States Geological Survey officially recorded the earthquake that happened at 10:11 p.m. (US time) at magnitude 6.8.
Meanwhile, the National Geophysical Institute of Morocco recorded it at magnitude 7.0 at 11:11 p.m. (local time) with the epicenter located in the district of Igil, province of El Haouz and part of the Marrakech-Safi region.
Morocco's National Seismic Monitoring and Alert Network assessed the earthquake at magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale, also felt in neighboring Algeria and Mauritania, according to Anadolu news agency.
Citing the Interior Ministry, Morocco's Royal Armed Forces posted on X (formerly Twitter) that fatalities were from Al Haouz and Marrakesh provinces, as well as the cities of Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant.
The situation is particularly dire in the Marrakech region, where numerous houses have collapsed and residents trapped under debris. The distressing scenes were corroborated by multiple videos showing pleas for help on social media, added Anadolu.
The previous strong earthquake in Morocco at magnitude 6.3 occurred on Feb. 24, 2004 in the province of El Hoceima (north of the country), according to TASS news agency.
Filipino community leader Regina Castillo said she has yet to receive reports of injured compatriots in her area of jurisdiction in Casablanca.
Castillo, who is currently in the city of El Jadida, about 230.2 km. from Marrakech, said the quake was so strong that she and her kids had to rush out of their place to take cover.
“For the moment, thank God na wala pa naman na re-report na nasaktan or napinsala na Pinoy. Wala pa ako natatanggap and hopefully, na wala at ligtas lahat ang ating mga kababayan na naririto sa Morocco (I have not received any report of injured Filipinos yet and hopefully, everyone here in Morocco is safe)” she told PNA.
“Nasa El Jadida kami right now and yes, ramdam na ramdan. May phobia nga ang mga bata. Natatakot sila pumasok sa bahay (We are currently in El Jadida and yes, we felt the earthquake. My kids are scared to go inside the house).”
As of last count this year, at least 4,600 Filipinos are working in households, beauty salons, construction projects, and restaurants in Morocco. (PNA)