Morocco earthquake: Is it safe to travel to Marrakech?

Morocco was hit with a devastating earthquake last week (Mosa’ab Elshamy / AP)
Morocco was hit with a devastating earthquake last week (Mosa’ab Elshamy / AP)

Morocco was hit with a devastating earthquake of 6.8 magnitude on Friday, September 8, leaving nearly 3,000 people dead and thousands injured.

As rescue efforts continue, officials are expecting the number of dead and injured to continue rising significantly.

Meanwhile, many tourists who had been planning to visit the famed city of Marrakech have been wondering if it is safe or wise to go ahead with their holiday.

Here is a look at the factors to consider before making your decision about travelling to Marrakech.

Is it safe to travel to Marrakech?

Following the earthquake, tens of aftershocks have been taking place across the country.

The epicentre of the quake was about 70 km south-west of Marrakech and the city has definitely felt the impact of both the earthquake and its aftershocks. A number of buildings have been damaged and collapsed following the disaster, including the Unesco World Heritage Site of Medina.

The US Geological Survey has highlighted that “due to the shallow depth of the event and its proximity to high population centres, many buildings experienced severe shaking that can result in catastrophic failure”.

So, even if the buildings you were planning to stay in or visit haven’t collapsed during the earthquake, they may have sustained significant damage and might collapse in the coming times.

The day after the earthquake, on Saturday, September 9, the UK Foreign Office said: “On Friday 8 September 2023 an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 struck Morocco near Marrakech.

“Further aftershocks are possible. You should follow the advice of local authorities, and follow local media.”

Are flights to Marrakech still going ahead?

Despite the disaster, flights to and from Marrakech have continued to operate.

EasyJet and British Airways added extra capacity with larger aircraft on flights to London on Saturday, September 9, to accommodate passengers who wanted to come home early.

And some operators are allowing their customers to reschedule their travel. British Airways, for instance, is letting passengers who are due to travel to or from Marrakech before September 24 change the dates of their flights for free. Similarly, Air France is letting customers modify or postpone their flights without an additional charge.

Will travelling to Marrakech impact the locals negatively?

Given the humanitarian crisis the country is currently suffering, tourists who visit Morocco might put extra strain on the limited resources the nation has.

For this reason, some have opted to cancel or postpone their holiday, so that the food, water, and other resources they would consume while in Morocco can be saved for the locals instead.

Plus, many Moroccans have been left without a home in the aftermath of the quake, so hotels with extra space might decide to offer them shelter if they have the availability.