The major earthquake in Morocco that killed more than 2,900 people and injured thousands more also significantly damaged some of the country’s most famous religious sites, according to Eric Falt, a French senior official for UNESCO who is on the ground in Marrakech.
Falt described the wreckage in an Instagram post, noting that the minaret, or tower, on top of the mosque in Jemaa el-Fnaa square was almost completely destroyed and that the famed Koutoubia mosque also sustained damage.
“There are major cracks on the minaret of the Koutoubia,” he wrote.
Koutoubia mosque is one of the most famous landmarks in Marrakech and the most prominent feature of its skyline.
“The building has stood since 1150, and its iconic minaret rises more than 250 feet high. (It’s) visible from almost any point in Marrakesh,” Smithsonian Magazine reported.
UNESCO highlights the mosque in its description of why the Medina of Marrakech is considered a world heritage site.
“Koutoubia Mosque (is) an essential monument of Muslim architecture,” UNESCO says.
The earthquake, which happened Friday night, also damaged Marrakech’s historically Jewish neighborhood and Tinmel mosque in the Atlas Mountains, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
“Credible reports say (Tinmel) mosque has been almost completely destroyed,” the article said.
In the months ahead, Morocco and its supporters around the world will have to carefully plan how to repair and rebuild the country’s “cultural property,” Falt wrote on Instagram.
“After a disaster like this, the most important thing is to preserve human lives. But we must also immediately plan for the second phase, which will include the reconstruction of schools and cultural property affected by the earthquake,” he said.