Morocco earthquake 2023: Red Cross Red Crescent response

Plunging temperatures and disease threaten communities after a powerful earthquake struck Morocco on 8 September 2023. Three months on, the humanitarian needs remain great.


Last updated 28 March 2024

  • 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck at 11pm local time on 8 September
  • At least 530 schools were damaged, affecting the education of 100,000 children
  • In total, 3,000 people were killed and 6,600,000 people affected

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco on 8 September 2023, causing widespread destruction. Thousands of people lost their lives and many more lost livelihoods, homes and loved ones.

Moroccan Red Crescent teams responded from day one, providing practical support such as food and shelter, and emotional support to the many traumatised people affected by the earthquake.

Morocco earthquake: what happened?

The epicentre of the earthquake was in Morocco’s high-altitude, Atlas Mountains where many are now living in tents. Freezing temperatures, snow and heavy rainfall are bringing further hardship. On top of this, the risk of landslides and aftershocks remain. 

The earthquake hit just after 11pm local time as many slept. Buildings collapsed and some villages near the epicentre were almost completely destroyed, including Tafeghaghte, 37 miles from Marrakesh.

Moroccan Red Crescent teams supported search and rescue operations and provided emergency medical care and psychosocial support.

The British Red Cross launched an appeal to support humanitarian needs in the area.

How have communities in Morocco been affected?

The scale of need remains substantial. According to the Moroccan government, the disaster has claimed around 3,000 lives and left thousands injured.

As well as the High Atlas Mountains, the city of Marrakesh was also impacted, and building collapses resulted in many casualties. While aid is reaching more isolated regions, logistical hurdles due to obstructed roads persist.

Other challenges include inadequate shelter, overcrowding, and lack of sanitation. Meanwhile, rain has begun to fall, causing muddy and flooded tents and settlement sites. Cases of diarrheal diseases are increasingly being reported in tented communities.

At least 530 schools were damaged affecting the education of 100,000 children. And it's estimated that 600,000 people are directly affected, with 380,000 of those temporarily or permanently homeless.

Other challenges include inadequate shelter, overcrowding, and lack of sanitation. Meanwhile, rain has begun to fall, causing muddy and flooded tents and settlement sites.

How has the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement supported people in Morocco?

Moroccan Red Crescent teams were on the ground immediately after the earthquake struck. They are continuing to work alongside local authorities to provide critical support.

This has included:

  • search and rescue
  • medical caravans which travel to remote village to provide medical and psychosocial support
  • blood donation drives
  • provision of toilets and showers
  • winter preparation, including mattresses, warm shelter and blankets
  • road repairs to enable access to communities

Moroccan Red Crescent Society teams area also replacing destroyed schools with temporary containers and supporting older children to access dormitories in larger cities to enable them to continue their education.

Upgrades to existing and new tents are due to be carried out to help with cold winter temperatures, including adding a timber floor and a second internal layer.

How can I help support people affected by the earthquake in Morocco?

Our expert, highly trained teams are currently working in the area and are best placed to help in dangerous conditions.

Money donated to our emergency fund will help ongoing relief, as well as longer-term aid for those affected.

When was Morocco's last earthquake?

At just 11 miles deep, this latest earthquake has become the deadliest earthquake to hit the country since 2004, when the Al Hoceima quake killed more than 600 and left up to 15,000 homeless.

The head of the National Institute of Geophysics in Morocco said that the 8 September earthquake was the strongest in a century.

While Morocco is not on a tectonic plate, it's close to a complex web of active faults that run through the High Atlas mountain range.

Related stories

You may also be interested in 

Morocco one month lead

Morocco earthquake: one month on

A month on from the devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake, which struck the High Atlas Mountains and Marrakesh, and communities are starting the long road to recovery.

4 minutes
People wait for relief items to be taken off of truck following Afghanistan earthquake.

Afghanistan earthquake: thousands affected in Herat province

A deadly earthquake has killed more than 2,000 people in Herat, Afghanistan and left many families homeless.

2 minutes
Teams from the Libyan Red Crescent are supporting affected communities from the Libya flooding.

Libya floods 2023: thousands die after Storm Daniel causes catastrophic flooding

Floods in Libya have left thousands of people dead and destroyed thousands and homes. Find out more about the devastating flooding and how the Red Cross is helping.

3 minutes