Residents of Morocco who experienced the earthquake firsthand said that confusion had quickly turned into chaos when their walls started shaking and objects started crashing to the ground.
In Amizmiz, a town about 30 miles southwest of Marrakesh that is near the epicenter, Yasmina Bennani was about to go to sleep on Friday night when she heard a loud noise.
“I felt terrorized,” said Ms. Bennani, 38, a journalist who, like many people in the area, lives in a house made of clay bricks. “I ran out of my room screaming, asking my mother to leave.”
The shaking cracked walls, broke vases and lamps, and sent chunks of ceiling falling to the floor, clogging her kitchen sink and stove with dust and debris.
“It didn’t last long but felt like years,” Ms. Bennani said.
She and her mother slept outside, a choice that many residents in towns and cities near the earthquake’s epicenter, in the High Atlas Mountains, also made amid fears of aftershocks.
As the death toll continued to climb on Saturday and rescue workers scrambled to find survivors in the rubble, it became painfully clear that many had not made it through the night.
“My husband and four children died,” one woman told Moroccan state television. “Mustapha, Hassan, Ilhem, Ghizlaine, Ilyes. Everything I had is gone. I am all alone.”
In Agadir, a town on the Atlantic coast west of the earthquake’s epicenter, Jihane Maftouh, 36, said she had felt fear and confusion when the shaking started.
“We prayed and heard things breaking,” Ms. Maftouh said. “I got dressed, left the house and didn’t even look back.”
Yacine Kourkouz, a resident of Marrakesh, told France’s BFMTV news channel on Saturday that he had endured “a night of horror.”
Mr. Kourkouz said he had been having dinner late on Friday when he felt a slight tremor. For a moment, he thought it was the vibrations of his washing machine. But the shaking rapidly worsened.
“The adrenaline took over,” Mr. Kourkouz told BFMTV. He rushed out of his fourth-floor apartment, down the stairs and into the street, where other residents had gathered.
“We looked at the feeling of terror on people’s faces,” he said. “Everyone was stunned, everyone was making calls.”
Raja Bouri, 33, who lives on the outskirts of Marrakesh, said that her walls had withstood the quake but that everything in her kitchen had fallen to the floor.
“I never felt anything like this in my life,” Ms. Bouri said. “It felt like a plane fell on me.”