A Marrakesh resident walks amid rubble in the city's streets A Marrakesh resident walks amid rubble in the city's streets  (AFP or licensors)

Pope expresses prayers and solidarity for quake-hit Morocco

Pope Francis sends his condolences to the victims of a powerful earthquake in central Morocco, and assures them of his prayers and solidarity.

By Devin Watkins and Nathan Morley

Pope Francis has expressed his sorrow and solidarity with the people of Morocco following a devastating earthquake that has struck the northern African nation.

Over 800 people were killed after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck near the central city of Marrakesh on Friday night.

Pope’s prayerful communion

In a telegram sent Saturday and signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope assured victims and their families of his “prayerful communion in the face of this natural disaster.”

He assured Moroccans of his “deep solidarity” and prayed for the repose of the many who have died, healing for those who were wounded, and consolation for those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and homes.

Pope Francis also extended his encouragement to civil authorities and rescue services who are working to provide assistance and support.

Wrapping up his telegram, the Pope invoked God’s blessings on all those affected “as a token of comfort.”

The devastating earthquake

The quake also injured at least 690 people. It struck Morocco Friday at 23:11 local time at a depth of 18 kilometers - the epicentre was in the Atlas Mountains, near the town of Ighil, some 50 miles southwest of Marrakesh.

It was felt in many cities across the country, including Rabat and Casablanca. 

Houses and apartments collapsed in the cities of Taroudant and Marrakesh, the nearest big city to the epicenter.

After the quake, many residents spent the night in the open air, fearful of potential aftershocks. There are reports of entire villages having been flattened and residents trapped in the rubble. 

Emergency teams have been sent to the quake-hit areas in a search for survivors.  

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09 September 2023, 13:10