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Lights to go out on Eiffel Tower in tribute to Morocco quake victims

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A picture shows the Eiffel Tower in Paris after it went dark for the Earth Hour environmental campaign on March 19, 2016. — AFP

As Morocco searches for survivors amid the powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake that ransacked the southwest of Marrakech and the cities near the epicentre, France decided to pay tribute to the victims of the North African country by throwing the Eiffel Tower in the dark at 11pm Saturday, according to an AFP report quoting Paris City Hall.

The earthquake struck Morocco’s High Atlas mountains late Friday night, damaging historic buildings in Marrakech, the nearest city to the epicentre, while the most badly affected areas were in the mountains nearby.

Moroccan government estimated Saturday that at least 2,012 people have died and other 2,059 have been injured of whom 1,220 were critical.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake’s epicentre was some 72 km (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech.

In the village of Amizmiz near the epicentre, rescue workers picked through rubble with their bare hands.

“When I felt the earth shaking beneath my feet and the house leaning, I rushed to get my kids out. But my neighbours couldn’t,” said Mohamed Azaw.

“Unfortunately no one was found alive in that family. The father and son were found dead and they are still looking for the mother and the daughter.”

About 20 men including firefighters and soldiers in fatigues stood atop the ruin of a house in Amizmiz as they tried to remove rubble, bits of carpet and furniture protruding from gaps between pancaked concrete floors.

Street camera footage in Marrakech showed the moment the earth began to shake, as men suddenly looked around and jumped up, and others ran for shelter into an alleyway and then fled as dust and debris tumbled around them.

In Marrakech, several buildings — including a UNESCO World Heritage site — collapsed in the old city.

Moreover, internet connectivity was disrupted in Marrakesh due to power cuts in the region, internet monitor NetBlocks said.

USGS said that “the population in this region lives in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking.”

Morocco experiences frequent earthquakes in its northern region due to its position between the African and Eurasian plates.

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