Morocco earthquake: Holidaymakers on moment disaster struck

Holidaymakers caught up in the Morocco earthquake have spoken of the terrifying moment disaster hit.

Jane Felix-Richards and her family, from Cardiff, were staying about 20 minutes from the main square in Marrakesh.

They were in the foyer of their hotel having a drink when they heard a "deep rumble that got increasingly louder".

As the building began to move Ms Felix-Richards thought there had been an explosion in the building.

Search and Rescue team operations continues at Moulay Brahim region after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country's Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
More than 1,000 people have been killed in the disaster, which struck at 23:11 local time on Friday

The 6.8 magnitude quake struck at 23:11 local time on Friday and more than 2,000 have been left dead.

The epicentre was in the High Atlas Mountains, 71km (44 miles) south-west of Marrakesh, at a depth of 18.5km, the US Geological Survey said.

It was followed by a 4.9 aftershock 19 minutes later.

"The whole building started to violently shake, chandeliers were swinging, plaster was coming off the walls, glasses were being smashed," Ms Felix-Richards said.

"I thought a bomb had gone off and the roof was coming down.

"I told the family to run, we ran to the doors leading out to the pool."

They were locked so her husband pushed open a side door.

"Everyone went through that door to escape," Ms Felix-Richards said.

Sirens could be heard in the distance.

Ms Felix-Richards said: "It was an incredibly scary experience. Today we are still in shock. It feels completely surreal."

Carina Lewis, a student nurse from Treorchy, said she was petrified when the quake hit while she was in Marrakesh's Aqua Mirage hotel, and "everything started flying around".

The building, 37 miles (60km) from the epicentre, has been left with cracks in the walls.

Ms Lewis, from Treorchy, said she and her family had been "left in limbo".

The 42-year-old is in the north African country with her two sons, her daughter, one of her son's friends and her partner Lee.

She said: "We had just come back to the hotel, it was something like 10:30 or 10:40pm and there was suddenly a whirring sound outside, almost like a motorbike.

"The next thing, everything started flying around, the whole building was shaking, things were flying off the counter. There was a door that was meant to be locked, and it just flew open.

"I grabbed my boy out of the bed and the passports and we just went out as quickly as we could."

People in the corridor, she said, were screaming and running and told her: "It's an earthquake, get out."

Rather than return to the hotel they slept on the grass of a playing field and then on sun loungers by the pool.

Ms Lewis said the aftershock was not as bad as the first quake but that they are expecting more.

They do not know when they will be able to return to Wales, but are due to fly back on Monday.

Ms Lewis said: "They said we can go back in [the hotel]. They said the blocks are structurally safe. But there are massive cracks in the floors. All up the walls.

"We went in. But in my son's room you can see a huge crack and the balconies have moved. They've shifted.

"I've taken pictures and video of the damage. My son's friend who is with us, his dad is a structural engineer. It can't be safe."

Now they are sitting outside with their luggage.

"I've never felt an earthquake before and I don't want to feel one again," Ms Lewis said.