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Devastating Earthquake Strikes Morocco, Leaving Over 800 Dead and Widespread Destruction

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Alaska 8.2 Magnitude Earthquake - Investors King

In a tragic turn of events, a rare and powerful earthquake rattled Morocco late Friday night, resulting in a devastating loss of life and extensive damage to buildings spanning from remote villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historically rich city of Marrakech.

The death toll, initially reported at over 800, is expected to rise as rescue teams grapple with the challenge of reaching the most severely affected, remote areas.

As the quake jolted people from their slumber, fear and disbelief gripped the streets, prompting individuals to flee their homes and take refuge in the open. State television broadcasts depicted the streets of Marrakech teeming with people late into the night, as they hesitated to return to buildings that may still pose a threat of instability.

Witnesses recounted harrowing experiences of the earthquake’s impact. One man, visiting a nearby apartment, described how dishes and wall hangings rained down, while people were thrown off balance and chairs were overturned. A woman shared her story of fleeing her house amid the intense vibrations, while a man cradling a child revealed he had been abruptly awakened in bed by the violent shaking.

Rescue workers, distinguishable by their reflective yellow vests, tirelessly searched through the rubble of damaged buildings, illuminated only by the darkness of the night. Heart-wrenching images captured the extent of devastation, with homes bearing gaping holes and cars nearly buried beneath the remnants of collapsed structures, as reported by local media.

Among the casualties, Marrakech’s iconic Koutoubia Mosque, dating back to the 12th century, suffered damage, though the full extent remains uncertain. Its 69-meter (226-foot) minaret, known as the “roof of Marrakech,” is a symbol of the city.

Videos shared by Moroccans also documented harm to sections of the famous red walls encircling the ancient city, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Interior Ministry of Morocco reported at least 820 fatalities, with the majority occurring in Marrakech and five provinces near the quake’s epicenter. Also, 672 individuals sustained injuries, with 205 of them categorized as seriously hurt.

Abderrahim Ait Daoud, the head of a town near the epicenter, conveyed the devastating impact on nearby communities, with several homes either partially or completely collapsed. Access to electricity and roads was severely disrupted in some areas.

Given the vast distances between mountain villages in Al Haouz Province, the full extent of the damage is anticipated to be revealed only over time.

Al Haouz, renowned for its picturesque villages nestled in the High Atlas Mountains and Amazigh villages integrated into the mountainsides, was hit hard by the earthquake.

The Moroccan military and emergency services swiftly mobilized aid efforts in the affected areas. However, rescue operations were impeded by congested roads leading to the mountainous region around the epicenter, obstructed by rocks and debris from landslides.

Trucks laden with essential supplies, including blankets, camp cots, and lighting equipment, struggled to access the hardest-hit areas, as reported by the official news agency MAP.

On the treacherous journey from Marrakech to Al Haouz, ambulances with sirens wailing and vehicles of concerned citizens navigated around piles of red rocks that had tumbled from the mountainside, obstructing the road. Red Cross personnel worked diligently to remove a massive boulder blocking the two-lane highway.

As the day broke over Marrakech, ambulances and motorcycles resumed their urgent missions along the edges of the old city, where life slowly returned to normal. Tourists and passersby cautiously navigated roadblocks while capturing photographs of the cracked sections of the clay ochre wall, spilling fragments and dust onto the sidewalk and street.

In a show of solidarity, world leaders extended offers of assistance and condolences, with support pouring in from countries across Europe, the Middle East, and beyond. Turkey’s president, who had experienced a massive earthquake in his own country earlier in the year, was among those offering aid. France and Germany, both home to significant Moroccan-origin populations, also pledged their support. Leaders from Ukraine and Russia expressed their solidarity with the people of Morocco.

However, as of now, the Moroccan government has not formally requested international assistance, a necessary step for external rescue teams to be deployed.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake initially registered a magnitude of 6.8 at 11:11 p.m. (2211 GMT), with tremors lasting several seconds. The agency reported a magnitude-4.9 aftershock approximately 19 minutes later.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz Province, approximately 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) south of Marrakech. The USGS reported a depth of 18 kilometers (11 miles) below the Earth’s surface, while Morocco’s seismic agency measured it at 11 kilometers (7 miles) deep. Shallow earthquakes like this tend to be more destructive.

Initial reports indicate that the Marrakech-Safi region, home to over 4.5 million people according to state figures, suffered severe damages and significant loss of life.

Earthquakes are relatively rare occurrences in North Africa, and Lahcen Mhanni, Head of the Seismic Monitoring and Warning Department at the National Institute of Geophysics, noted that this earthquake was the strongest ever recorded in the mountainous region.

Morocco has experienced past seismic events, such as the 1960 earthquake near Agadir, which measured 5.8 in magnitude and resulted in a devastating loss of life. This catastrophe prompted revisions to construction regulations in Morocco, although many buildings, particularly rural residences, may still not be adequately earthquake-resistant.

In 2004, another significant earthquake measuring 6.4 in magnitude struck near the Mediterranean coastal city of Al Hoceima, claiming over 600 lives.

The impact of Friday’s earthquake was felt as far away as Portugal and Algeria, according to reports from the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and Algeria’s Civil Defense agency, responsible for emergency response.

The hearts of people around the world go out to the victims of this tragic earthquake, and the global community stands ready to assist Morocco in its time of need.

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Kagame Dominates Election with 99.15% of Votes Counted

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President Paul Kagame has taken a commanding lead in the Rwandan presidential election, securing 99.15% of the votes counted thus far, according to the National Electoral Commission.

The provisional results, reported by the state broadcaster Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, indicate a decisive victory for the Rwandan Patriotic Front candidate.

With 79% of the ballots tallied, Kagame’s overwhelming lead leaves his opponents trailing significantly.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has garnered only 0.53% of the votes, while independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana has received 0.32%.

The voter turnout has been reported at an impressive 98%, underscoring the high level of public engagement in the electoral process.

The early results suggest a strong mandate for Kagame, who has been at the helm of Rwandan politics since 2000.

Kagame’s administration has been marked by significant economic growth and development, but it has also faced criticism for its stance on political dissent and freedom of expression.

Despite this, Kagame remains a highly popular figure in Rwanda, with many citizens crediting him for the country’s stability and progress.

The National Electoral Commission is expected to release the final results in the coming days. As the tallying continues, Kagame’s supporters have already begun celebrating his anticipated victory.

Analysts believe that Kagame’s likely re-election will provide continuity in Rwanda’s economic policies and development programs.

However, they also call for more inclusive governance and respect for political freedoms to ensure long-term stability and growth.

Kagame’s near-unanimous support in the early results reflects his entrenched position in Rwandan politics.

His ability to maintain such high levels of support will be a focal point of discussion in the aftermath of the election.

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Kenya Prepares for More Protests Over Unresolved Political Crisis

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Kenya is on the brink of another wave of anti-government protests as efforts to resolve the nation’s escalating political crisis appear to have stalled.

President William Ruto’s proposal for a national dialogue has yet to take off, leaving the nation in a state of heightened tension.

Activists have called for demonstrations across the East African nation on Tuesday, protesting the government’s failure to hold security forces accountable for the deaths of at least 41 people.

These casualties occurred during protests against Ruto’s contentious plan to raise taxes over the past month.

Despite the president’s announcement last week that national dialogue would commence on Monday to defuse the situation, progress has been elusive.

The main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), expressed uncertainty regarding the proposed talks.

“We haven’t received any invitation,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna stated. “When called, we’ll go because we are keen on getting broad-based reforms.”

A spokesperson for the presidency indicated that parliamentary leaders were managing the planned talks, but National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah did not respond to requests for comment.

Protests initially erupted in mid-June over Ruto’s plans to increase taxes on essential goods, including bread and diapers, aiming to raise over $2 billion to reduce the government’s budget shortfall.

The public outcry forced Ruto to abandon the proposal, but dissatisfaction remains high.

Last week, in a dramatic move to quell public anger, Ruto fired almost all his cabinet members, underscoring the severity of the discontent.

The scrapping of the tax measures is expected to widen the government’s budget deficit to 3.6% of GDP in the current fiscal year, up from a previous projection of 3.3%.

This financial strain has not gone unnoticed; Moody’s Ratings downgraded Kenya’s rating by a step to Caa1, plunging it deeper into junk status, highlighting the country’s deteriorating fiscal condition.

On Saturday, Ruto vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the recent killings. However, his efforts to address public concerns seem insufficient to stem the tide of unrest.

On Monday, he called on the Ford Foundation, an organization promoting civic engagement, to clarify its role in the protests, though the foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

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Rishi Sunak Announces Resignation Amid Labour’s Sweeping Victory

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Rishi Sunak

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced his resignation as the leader of the Conservative Party following a historic victory by Labour in the general election.

Addressing the nation from the steps of 10 Downing Street, Sunak expressed his deep regret and took full responsibility for the party’s defeat.

“I would like to say, first and foremost, I am sorry. I have given this job my all,” Sunak began, visibly moved.

“But you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change. And yours is the only judgement that matters. I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss.”

The Conservatives experienced a staggering loss, with more seats taken by Labour than in any previous election.

This shift marked a dramatic change in the political landscape, as large swathes of the country turned red. Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, claimed victory early Friday morning, addressing a jubilant crowd of supporters.

“The UK has the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back,” Starmer proclaimed.

Sunak, who retained his seat in Richmond, North Yorkshire, described the night as “sobering.”

In his concession, he stated, “The Labour Party has won this general election, and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory. The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight; there is much to learn, and I take responsibility for the loss.”

Following his resignation speech, Sunak and his wife, Akshata, departed from Downing Street for Buckingham Palace to formally tender his resignation to King Charles III.

A spokesperson for the King confirmed, “His Majesty was graciously pleased to accept.”

Reflecting on his tenure, Sunak said, “I am honoured to have been your prime minister. This is the best country in the world.”

He also acknowledged the many Conservative MPs who lost their seats, stating, “It pains me to think how many good colleagues who contributed so much to their communities and our country will now no longer sit in the House of Commons. I thank them for their hard work and their service.”

As the Conservative Party faces a period of introspection and rebuilding, Sunak emphasized the importance of the party’s role in opposition.

“It is important that the Conservative Party now rebuilds and also takes up its crucial role in opposition, professionally and effectively,” he noted.

The leadership race within the Conservative Party is expected to commence shortly, as the party seeks to navigate its path forward after this significant electoral defeat.

For now, the UK braces for a new political era under Labour’s leadership, with the promise of significant changes on the horizon.

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