Saida Bodchich was asleep in her house in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh when the magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck.
Unable to escape quickly enough, she was trapped as the roof fell on Friday night. Luckily for her, the neighbours came to her rescue and pulled her out.“I was saved by my neighbours who cleared the rubble with their bare hands,” said Bodchich. “I am living with them in their house now because mine was completely destroyed.”
More than 2,012 people have been killed and at least 2,059 injured by the quake, also obliterating historic buildings in Marrakesh, the fourth largest city in Morocco about 70km (43 miles) from the quake’s epicentre.
Residents of many affected areas were rendered homeless by the destruction, while many opted to sleep in the open on Saturday night, fearing aftershocks or damaged roofs and walls crumbling.Khadijah Satou, another Marrakesh resident, felt her room “spin” as she tried to figure out what was happening.
“I was just on the bed ready to sleep when things started to feel like a bit shaky,” she told Al Jazeera.
“At first I thought, maybe there’s a fire next door or construction. But the shaking was not something normal. I felt the room was spinning. It was traumatic. I’m speaking about it now but the feeling was really bad.“I heard people screaming and then I realised that it’s an earthquake.”
Satou ran out of her apartment, without her shoes or phone. The staircase in her building was shaking as she left.“At that moment, I was thinking there’s no way I could make out [of the building]. I think the earthquake was very short but it felt an eternity. People were crying, scared and everybody was hugging one other.”
The quake was recorded at a depth of 26km (16 miles), making it more destructive than deeper quakes of the same magnitude.
It was Morocco’s deadliest earthquake since 1960. Most of the deaths were reported in mountainous areas to the south in the Al-Haouz and Taroudant provinces.Marrakesh’s famous Koutoubia Mosque, built in the 12th century, was damaged but the extent was not immediately clear. Videos posted online showed damage to parts of the famous red walls that surround the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.