RABAT: A magnitude 7 earthquake struck Morocco late Friday, destroying buildings and sending horrified residents rushing out of their homes to save their lives.

“The earthquake struck as I was watching television,” Aziz Aishi, a resident of the capital Rabat, told Anadolu Agency.

“Windows opened and shut themselves,” he recalled. “I felt terrified and ran out of the house.”

As he spilled out onto the street, Aishi found hundreds of people fleeing their shaking buildings.

The powerful earthquake has killed at least 632 people and injured 392 others injured, according to the Moroccan Interior Ministry.

Fatalities from the powerful quake occurred in various regions, including Al Haouz and Marrakesh provinces, as well as the cities of Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant, the ministry said in a statement.

The earthquake was the strongest tremor to hit the North African country in the last century, Morocco’s National Geophysical Institute said.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the epicentre of the earthquake, which hit just after 11 pm local time, was 75 kilometres southeast of Marrakesh, at a depth of 18.5 km.

“I lost a member of my family in the earthquake when her house collapsed,” a resident of Taroudant city, who preferred to remain unnamed, told Anadolu.

The situation was said to be particularly dire in Marrakesh, where numerous buildings were reported to have collapsed, with residents trapped under debris.

Local media said some buildings, including the famous red walls that surround the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage, were damaged.

Adel Ait Haddou, a regional representative for health and social protection in Azilal town, said nine people had lost their lives when their houses collapsed in Imlil village in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains.

In 2004, more than 600 people were killed and many others injured when a magnitude 6.3 quake hit northeastern Morocco.-Bernama

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