Earthquake in Morocco claims at least 229 lives

An earthquake measuring over six points on the Richter scale killed at least 20 people in northern Morocco in the early hours today, officials said. The official news agency MAP said at least 20 people had died in the quake, which hit the northeastern province of Al Hoceima on the Mediterranean coast. The agency earlier said around 40 people had been injured. The French earth sciences laboratory in Strasbourg said the quake measured 6.3 points on the Richter scale, while the National Geographical Institute in nearby Spain estimated the intensity at 6.1 points on the Richter scale, report &to=' target=_blank>

A powerful earthquake shook an impoverished region of northern Morocco early Tuesday, killing at least 40 people and injuring 40 others, the official news agency reported Tuesday.

The victims from the temblor, which struck at 2:30 a.m. local time, were in rural villages near the coastal city of Al-Hoceima, the MAP news agency reported.

Military and civilian rescuers were dispatched to the scene to help survivors and to search for victims who may have been trapped under rubble. However, they reported difficulties in reaching the affected area because of its remoteness. The last large earthquake to hit the area measured 6.0 and struck in 1994. But Morocco's deadliest earthquake was in 1960, when 15,000 people were killed after a devastating quake shook the southern city of Agadir and surrounding regions, inform &to=' target=_blank>

Morocco's official MAP news agency said the quake struck at around 02:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) and was felt in the areas of Al Hoceima, the tourist city of Fez in the interior and Taza. "Most victims are in villages near Al Hoceima," it said. USGS spokesman Butch Kinerney said the quake's epicentre was in the Strait of Gibraltar separating Morocco and Spain, and about 300 km (185 miles) northeast of the Moroccan capital Rabat. "We could definitely see the potential for some fairly significant damage from this earthquake," he said, according to &to=' target=_blank>

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