A strong earthquake of magnitude 6.8 has struck central Morocco, killing at least 1,000 people and causing severe damage in several areas.
Residents rushed into the streets when the quake struck at 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT) on Friday.
“Violent” tremors were felt in several areas of the country from Casablanca to Marrakesh, where many buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged.
The country’s royal palace has declared three days of national mourning.
It also said the armed forces would deploy rescue teams to provide affected areas with clean drinking water, food supplies, tents and blankets.
Many of the victims are believed to be in hard-to-reach mountain areas.
Many people are still believed to be under the rubble and rescue efforts are under way. Several bodies have already been recovered.
Morocco’s interior ministry said the earthquake killed people in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant, adding that more than 1,200 had been injured.
In Marrakesh some buildings have collapsed and the damage is particularly severe in parts of the Medina, a Unesco World Heritage site.
Dust could be seen surrounding the minaret of the historic Kutubiyya mosque, a major tourist attraction near the old city’s main square, while the historic Jemaa el Fnaa mosque partly collapsed.(BBC)