Tourist describes 'horrific' moment Morocco earthquake struck Marrakech hotel

  • ITV News Meridian's Juliette Fletcher spoke to Jacci Michaels about the ordeal

A British woman who was on holiday in Morocco when the earthquake struck, killing almost 3,000 people, has described the "terrifying noise" that she will "never forget".

Jacci Michaels, from Reading in Berkshire, was at a hotel in Marrakech when the floor began to shake, as the strongest earthquake to hit Morocco in more than a century struck.

Jacci said: "It was about 11:10 when I first heard it. I said to my husband we're having a earthquake and he said 'don't be so stupid'.

"But it got faster and faster and louder and louder, it was horrific. People were falling to the floor, buildings were cracking.

"The noise, I wouldn't want to hear that again, it was four or five times louder than a thunderstorm."

Firefighters walking along a pile of rubble formed of tree branches and concrete bricks in Morocco. Credit: KFRS/PA

The devastating 6.8 magnitude quake hit the rural Al Haouz region on Friday, 44 miles south of Marrakech, killing 1,643 in the area alone as of Tuesday.

Rescuers from Morocco, Spain, aid groups, and 60 teams from the UK are desperately searching for survivors.

Homes crumbled into dust and debris, choking out the air pockets that might allow some people to survive for days under rubble.

At the hotel in Marrakech, about 40 miles north of the epicentre, the violent tremors damaged the buildings so frightened families were moved outside, with many sleeping around the pools.

The walls of the hotel were cracked following the earthquake. Credit: Jacci Michaels

Jacci said: "It's a huge complex, so all down different places, there were people with blankets and young kids.

"There was a little boy in a wheelchair who I felt sorry for. His parents were upset, trying to keep him calm.

"There were newborn babies there as well, it was horrendous."

Jacci caught a rescue flight home and has now set up a crowdfunding page to help raise funds for the families affected.

Jacci said: "They need tents, they need food, they need to rebuild their homes and unless you are in that situation like we were, nobody realises how bad it is."

Tents set up in the town of Amizmiz Credit: Mosa’ab Elshamy/AP

It is estimated that 300,000 people have been affected, according to The United Nations.

Aid offers poured in from around the world but groups said the government has not made a broad appeal for help and accepted only limited foreign assistance.

The Interior Ministry said it was accepting search and rescue-focused international aid from Spain, Qatar, Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

Britain sent a 60-person search team with four dogs, medical staff, listening devices and concrete-cutting gear.

The earthquake was North African country’s strongest quake in over 120 years, its shallow epicentre made it more destructive and it toppled buildings in regions.

Though such powerful tremors are rare, it is not yet the country’s deadliest.

Just over 60 years ago, it was rocked by a magnitude 5.8 quake that killed over 12,000 people on its western coast, where the city of Agadir, southwest of Marrakech, crumbled.

That quake prompted changes in construction rules in Morocco, but many buildings, especially rural homes, are not built to withstand such tremors.

There had not been any earthquakes stronger than magnitude 6.0 within 310 miles of Friday's tremor in at least a century, according to the US Geological Survey.