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Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

What to Know about North Africa's Earthquakes


Wed 13 Sep 2023 | 02:00 PM
Ahmed Emam

Earthquakes are relatively rare in the North African region, according to the Seismic Monitoring and Warning Department at the Morocco National Institute of Geophysics.

Friday’s earthquake in Morocco was the strongest ever recorded in the region, the institute noted. It was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria, according to the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria’s Civil Defense agency, which oversees emergency response.

In 1960, a magnitude 5.8 tremor struck near the Moroccan city of Agadir and caused thousands of deaths. That quake prompted changes in construction rules in Morocco, but many buildings, especially rural homes, are not built to withstand such tremors.

In 2004, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake near the Mediterranean coastal city of Al Hoceima in the north of Morocco left more than 600 dead.

In 2021, an earthquake with 5.8 magnitude shook the northern coast of Algeria. The quake hit at a depth of 10 km near Bejaia, Algeria, and was felt as far away as the capital Algiers.

Two aftershocks of magnitude 5.2 and 4.7 followed the quake. According to experts in seismology on volcano discovery, shallow earthquakes are felt more strongly than deeper ones as they are closer to the surface.

Different seismology centers issued reports on the magnitude of the earthquake in Algeria. Their results varied between 5.7 and 6.0. An earthquake of this magnitude is usually felt by people near the epicenter.

Domestic authorities recorded light to moderate damage in Bejaia, a city with a population of 164,000 inhabitants, located 21 km away from the epicenter.

The quake was also reportedly felt as a light shake in El-Kseur and Colmar, both located 40 km from the epicenter, Barbacha 44 km away, and several other cities.

Another earthquake struck Tizi Ouzou, Algeria, in December 2020. It was at a 4.0 magnitude and a depth of 10 km.