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Morocco earthquake kills more than 560
300 also injured near longneglected Mediterranean port region
Abdelhak Senna / AFPGetty Images
A woman passes by a collapsed building in the Moroccan town of Imzouren
after an earthquake struck the northeastern part of the country early
The Associated Press
Updated: 6:06 p.m. ET Feb. 24, 2004
RABAT, Morocco - A powerful earthquake devastated an isolated, picturesque region of northern
Morocco on Tuesday, killing more than 560 people as they slept, injuring hundreds more and
laying ruin to villages that suffered for decades under government neglect.
Rescuers with pickaxes and sniffer dogs were searching for survivors trapped under the rubble
of their fragile mud-and-stone homes, which crumbled easily in the 6.5-magnitude temblor.
Victims were most likely women, children and the elderly because men in the region tend to
emigrate to the Netherlands and Germany in search of work, said Mohammed Ziane, a former
human rights minister.
The death toll climbed steadily throughout the day as rescuers began reaching the hard-hit
areas and finding corpses, officials said. The official MAP news agency said late Tuesday at least
564 people were dead and 300 injured. Of those, 80 people were hospitalized, the agency said.
Officials earlier had put the injury toll at 600.
Fate of three villages unclear
There was concern about the fate of three villages -- Ait Kamra, Tamassint and Imzourn --
where 30,000 people live in mud homes unable to withstand a major temblor.
The death toll had steadily climbed throughout the day as rescuers began reaching the hard-hit
areas. Military and civilian rescuers were dispatched to the scene to help survivors and search
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Most of the injured have broken bones. Houses collapsed. It was a very, very violent jolt.'
However, rescuers reported difficulties in reaching the affected area, located in the foothills of
the Rif Mountains and served by narrow, poor roads.
The death toll had been expected to rise throughout the day, the Interior Ministry said.
The quake -- which reverberated across the Strait of Gibraltar -- was felt across much of
southern Spain, but no damage or injuries were reported there.…read more