Over 1,300 Dead in 6.8-Magnitude Earthquake in Morocco as Rescue Teams Struggle to Reach Affected Areas

According to local news outlet 2M, more than 1,300 are dead and 1,832 people are injured after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit Morocco on Friday night

More than 1,300 people are dead after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Oukaïmeden, Morocco, Friday night.

According to an update shared by Moroccan news outlet 2M, at least 1,305 people have been killed as a result of the natural disaster as of 7 p.m. local time. It’s the strongest earthquake the country has seen since 1900, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported. It hit just after 11 p.m. local time on Friday night.

The outlet also reported that the number of people injured had reached 1,832, and 1,220 of those are listed as in critical condition, according to a report from the Ministry of the Interior.

The death toll was previously reported at 1,037 by local outlet Al Aoula, and had increased by several hundred in just two and a half hours. The number of victims injured and in critical condition increased from 721 to 1,220 in the same timeframe.

<p>AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy</p>

AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy

A national mourning period has been announced by the Royal Palace and will last over the next three days, according to 2M.

In a statement, President Joe Biden said he is “deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake.”

“My administration is in contact with Moroccan officials,” the statement continued. “We are working expeditiously to ensure American citizens in Morocco are safe, and stand ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people. The United States stands by Morocco and my friend King Mohammed VI at this difficult moment.”

Related: Baby Reunited with Mom 54 Days After They Were Separated by Earthquake in Turkey: 'Truly a Miracle'

<p>AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy</p> Devastation remains after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit Morocco late Friday night

AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy

Devastation remains after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit Morocco late Friday night

The earthquake originated in a remote area in the High Atlas mountains southwest of Marrakech, called Oukaïmeden, according to the USGS. According to TripAdviser, Oukaïmeden is "the highest ski & transhumance resort of Morocco & Africa (also a prehistorical site containing highland pasture reserve, rock arts & local right holders shelters)."

Some of the most affected areas are “quite remote and mountainous [and] therefore hard to reach,” according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“The next 24 to 48 hours will be critical in terms of saving lives,” Caroline Holt, the organization’s Global Director of Operations, said in a statement.

Al Aoula reported that rescue teams are having difficulty reaching the remote areas as damage and debris has blocked off roads and access, per CNN.

<p>AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy</p> A 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit Morocco on Friday night and destroyed a home near Marrakech

AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy

A 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit Morocco on Friday night and destroyed a home near Marrakech

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As for what the recovery period looks like, Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, the IFRC’s Regional Director of the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement that, unlike the quake that hit Turkey and Syria in February, the crisis in Morocco will take longer to address.

“We are looking at many months, if not years, of response.”

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