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Morocco earthquake: Unesco world heritage site damaged

Reports and footage indicate parts of Marrakech's Old City and historic walls suffered heavy damage
A view of Djamaa Lafna square and its restaurants in Marrakesh's old city 18 December 2014 (Reuters)
A view of Djamaa Lafna square and its restaurants in Marrakech's old city 18 December 2014 (Reuters)

A deadly earthquake in Morocco has damaged buildings in Marrakech's Old City and parts of its historic walls.

The extent of the damage from the quake on Friday night is not yet fully known, as the search for survivors in the Unesco world heritage site continued on Saturday.

Initial reports and social media posts indicate some buildings in the Old City had suffered heavy damage. 

Parts of a minaret of a small mosque in the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square, at the heart of Marrakech's Old City, collapsed and caused injuries and damage to property nearby. 

Online footage showed dust emanating from the minaret during the earthquake.

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However, the famous medieval Kutubiyya mosque, which overlooks the Jemaa el-Fnaa square, remained intact.

The square, a famous tourist attraction packed with busy markets, street vendors and gardens, also appeared largely unaffected.

Parts of the Old City's famous red earth walls were cracked, according to state-run Al Aoula TV.

Translation: Collapse of Marrakech walls due to the earthquake

The city of Marrakech, founded in 1070, boasts a vibrant history, containing notable landmarks like the Kutubiyya mosque and Saadian Tombs.

In 1985, Unesco designated it a World Heritage Site, recognising its cultural significance. 

Unesco has praised Marrakech as a "living testimony to a historic civilisation", celebrating its unique blend of architecture and traditions, and attracting millions of tourists to the city annually. 

The 6.8-magnitude quake struck a mountainous area 72km southwest of Marrakech at 11.11pm local time (10.11pm GMT) on Friday, the US Geological Survey reported.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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