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‘The whole building shook’: Maltese man describes Marrakesh earthquake terror

A Maltese man in Marrakesh has described the terror of his hotel shaking to the foundations during a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that has rocked the Moroccan city. 

The powerful earthquake struck Morocco on Friday night, sending its inhabitants into chaos and scrambling to get to safety in the dead of night. 

More than 600 people were killed in the quake, with hundreds of others injured, according to a toll released by the country's interior ministry on Saturday morning. 

Daniel Borg, who is currently on a tour of Morocco, told Times of Malta he was getting ready for bed shortly after 11pm when the hotel he was staying at started to shake violently. 

“I was drifting off to sleep when the building started to shake and a deep, rumbling noise came along with it,” he said. 

“It was terrifying, very scary, and I think on the fifth floor perhaps we felt the shaking even more.” 

A night in the lobby

Scrambling to get out of his room and down to the lobby, Borg said that he and the other hotel guests were fumbling around in the darkness as the power went out, with many relying on the light of their mobile phones to climb down the stairs. 

Hotel staff tried to assuage their fears and encourage them to go back to their rooms, he continued, but he and many other guests were not comforted by their affirmations. 

“They tried to tell us it was only a magnitude 2 earthquake and that it was normal for Marrakesh. I still didn’t feel comfortable going back to my room so I spent the night in the lobby. Of course, this morning we know that it was a far more powerful earthquake than we were initially told,” he said. 

Daniel Borg was on holiday in Marrakesh when the quake struck. Photo: FacebookDaniel Borg was on holiday in Marrakesh when the quake struck. Photo: Facebook

Borg said that locally, initial reports of the devastation show scores of partially collapsed buildings and people sleeping rough on the streets. 

The harrowing experience, he added, was unique and unlike anything he had experienced. 

“It was awful, the shaking of the building was something incredible,” he said. 

“At first you’re sort of in denial, but once that terrible noise rumbling like an engine in the background sinks in, it all happens very quickly and you have to force yourself to get to safety.”

At least 10 Maltese in Marrakesh

In comments to Times of Malta, a spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Ministry said that it is currently in contact with 10 Maltese nationals in Marrakesh or neighbouring areas of Morocco and none of them have reported suffering any injuries. 

“We are aware that some of them are set to return tomorrow, Sunday the 10th and others are making arrangements to return on Monday the 11th,” the spokesperson said.

“These compatriots are being assisted by the Honorary Consul of Malta in Marrakesh. Anyone in need of help should contact 00212662795525 or 00212661944302.”

The Ministry also expressed its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the Earthquakes that hit Morocco.

Latest reports on the earthquake on Saturday morning have put the death toll up to at least 632 people, with 329 others injured. 

Of those injured, 51 were in critical condition, Morocco’s interior ministry has said. 

The 6.8-magnitude quake struck 72 kilometres southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh, with strong tremors being felt in the coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca and Essaouira.

Previously, the ministry had said that at least 296 people died in the quake, which sent terrified residents fleeing their homes in the middle of the night.