On This Day


On This Day: Earthquake Kills Thousands in Morocco

February 29, 2008 12:15 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Feb. 29, 1960, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck Agadir, Morocco. The 15-second event killed thousands and leveled parts of the city.

30-Second Summary

It was a clear, warm evening and many in the city were feasting in observance of the third night of Ramadan, the season in which Muslims traditionally fast during daylight. At 11:41 p.m., the ground lurched.

“The earth was kicked from under us,” a survivor said, according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey

Slight shocks had been felt throughout the week, with a stronger tremor at noon that same day.

Though “disquieting,” the tremors failed to raise alarms in “a region in which common knowledge insisted earthquakes ‘never’ occurred,” the USGS reported.

The town was filled with frail historic stone structures, and even the newer construction in the city lacked adequate reinforcement. The weakness of the buildings, and the unusually shallow quake activity just below the earth’s surface, made the 15-second, geologically “moderate” quake especially deadly.

"Within a period of a few seconds, the bulk of the city was completely destroyed,” the USGS said.

The first news of the disaster was reported to the outside world by the radios of Spanish fishing vessels anchored in the harbor. Despite many international relief efforts, the destruction was so great that few survivors were found.

At least 12,000 people were killed and another 12,000 were injured. The 5.7 magnitude quake is considered the most destructive "moderate" earthquake of the 20th century, according to USGS.

Following the earthquake, nearly $45 million was spent to reconstruct Agadir and reduce the potential for future earthquake damage. Today, the town is a popular tourist destination.

Headline Links: A city destroyed

Background: Photos of Agadir

Related Topic: A more recent earthquake

Reference: What causes earthquakes?


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