A 6.5-magnitude earthquake shook northern Morocco Tuesday morning, and government officials estimate hundreds of people could be dead.
Rural areas near the city of Al Hoceima – especially the villages of Ait Kamra, Tamassint and Imzourn – are home to some 30,000 people who live in mud structures that were likely severely damaged or destroyed.
The quake struck in the wee morning hours – around 2:30 a.m. – when most people were in their homes asleep.
The areas that most likely sustained severe damage are difficult to access because they are located in the foothills of the Rif Mountains, where roads are not in good condition.
Morocco is in northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and the western Sahara.
The quake was centered 100 miles northeast of Fez, and was one mile below the Mediterranean Sea bed, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Aftershocks continued to rock the area Tuesday.
Following a rebellion in 1960s, the region has struggled with poverty and civil unrest. The local economy is sustained by fishing and by growing cannabis.
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