Tyneside woman desperate to get home after night of ‘carnage’ during Morocco earthquake

Lois Fox, who was on a solo trip to Marrakech, spent the night in the street surrounded by rubble. Credit: Lois Fox

A Tyneside woman said she is desperate to get home after a night of "carnage" during the strongest earthquake to hit Morocco in a century.

Lois Fox was enjoying the last night of her solo trip to Marrakesh when rare, powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco.

She said what followed has "traumatised" her and now she is desperately trying to return home.

At least 800 people have now died and a further 672 people have been injured due to the tremor.

The shaken photographs taken by Mrs Fox show the devastation following the earthquake's impact. Credit: Lois Fox

Ms Fox was staying in a riad the near the Medina in the city. She was part of a group of nine solo travellers who had been trekking around the Atlas Mountains.

The group were enjoying the last night of their trip when she said they heard a "roar" and the whole building began to shake.

She added that the earthquake siren began to sound and the building began to fill with dust. They all then ran to the roof of the building incase it collapsed.

Mrs Fox was part of a group of nine solo travellers who had been trekking around the Atlas Mountains. Credit: Lois Fox

Once the quake had stopped she said the group ran outside, holding each others hands and aimed for an open area away from buildings.

Mrs Fox said: "The ground was still trembling and after a few minutes we were told to run to another larger open area of land.

"We stayed there until 4am this morning. We had been told to stay out and the French police were coming to help us."

Mrs Fox said the scenes in the street were "carnage." Credit: Lois Fox

Although the group were told that the airport was closed, a taxi had been previously booked to take them to them there.

Mrs Fox said she was surprised to find it turned up. She added: "We had no hesitation in jumping in and getting to airport."

When she arrived at the airport she said a grassed areas in front of the terminal was covered with groups of people as they couldn’t come in to the building. Photographs sent to ITV Tyne Tees show broken bottles of spirits, wines and perfumes shattered on the floor of the airport.

"People tried to stay safe by heading to open areas, away from the buildings". Credit: Lois Fox

Mrs Fox is currently in the airport waiting for a flight back to Gatwick.

She said: "There are so many traumatised and exhausted travellers in the airport. I’m just hoping there isn’t an aftershock that will affect my flight.

"I am still processing what happened and having flash backs of the fluid staircase and the water in the small pool in the foyer was lashing back and forth.

"I am just glad to have got out of there as so many poor souls have died."

The aftermath of the earthquake was clear at the airport, shopping areas scattered with broken bottles. Credit: Lois Fox

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 when it hit at 11.11pm local time on Friday, while a magnitude 4.9 aftershock hit 19 minutes later.

The epicentre of the earthquake was near the town of Ighil in Al Haouz province, roughly 43 miles south of Marrakesh.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said the UK is supporting British nationals after a deadly earthquake hit Morocco.

He said: "Devastating news of a substantial earthquake just outside Marrakesh, Morocco.

"The UK is continuing to support British nationals in the region.

"We stand ready to help our Moroccan friends in whatever way we can."

The FCDO has also updated its advice to Britons visiting the country, adding that they should "follow local media and safety instructions from local authorities".

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