Maisie Smith has revealed she flew home from Morocco just two days before the devastating earthquake.
Morocco’s biggest earthquake in over 120 years struck south of Marrakesh on Friday night, killing at least 632 people and leaving more than 350 injured.
The earthquake, which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale struck Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and caused tremors as far away as Portugal, has wiped out entire families as witnesses describe hearing ‘unbearable screaming and crying’ and seeing distraught relatives frantically search with their bare hands for buried loved ones.
EastEnders actress Maisie, 22, offered her condolences to those affected by the tragedy as she shared an update to Instagram on Saturday.
She wrote: ‘I can’t believe it. We only just flew back from this beautiful country just two days ago.’
Update: Maisie Smith, 22, has revealed she flew home from Morocco just two days before the devastating earthquake
Awful: The EastEnders actress offered her condolences to those affected by the tragedy as she shared an update to Instagram
She added: ‘My thoughts are with all the victims and the families of those who lost their lives in this tragedy.’
Maisie previously gave her followers a glimpse at her holiday in an Instagram post on Thursday.
The actress wore plunging white summer dress with a colourful leaf print in the images as she paid homage to the 2004 film 50 First Dates – referencing the film in her caption.
On Friday night, Horrific footage shared on social media showed a massive cloud of dust rising in Marrakesh – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hugely popular tourist town – as buildings collapsed and people fled for their lives.
In a statement this morning a Moroccan government official said emergency operations are ‘in progress across the country’ and the death toll is expected to rise considerably in the hours and days ahead.
No identities of victims were released as initial figures rose from 300 to 632 overnight. The epicentre was 40 miles south of the tourist city, which is a popular British holiday destination.
The ministry wrote that most damage occurred outside of cities and towns, and the United States Geological Survey warned that the death toll was likely to rise significantly, because rural buildings were not built to sustain such earthquakes.
Other footage shows rescue attempts are well underway, with locals helping to try and free those trapped using their bare hands.
Tragedy: Morocco’s biggest earthquake in over 120 years struck south of Marrakesh on Friday night, killing at least 632 people and leaving more than 350 injured
Holiday: Maisie previously gave her followers a glimpse at her holiday in an Instagram post on Thursday
But there are warnings the strong quake means it will take time to reach mountain villages and other smaller settlements outside of Morocco’s cities, meaning the true extent of the damage and people harmed remains unknown.
The Interior Ministry urged calm, saying in its televised statement on the death toll that the quake had hit the provinces of Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant. Officials added that most of those killed will be in hard to reach settlements outside of the cities.
The British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has advised tourists to follow local media and safety instructions from local authorities, adding that anyone in the UK concerned about a loved one abroad can call the office on 020 7008 5000.
Abderrahim Ait Daoud, head of the town of Talat N’Yaaqoub, said authorities are working to clear roads in Al Haouz Province to allow passage for ambulances and aid to populations affected, but said large distances between mountain villages mean it will take time to learn the extent of the damage.
The Moroccan military and emergency services mobilized aid efforts to the areas hit by damages, local media reported that roads leading to the mountain region around the epicenter were jammed with vehicles and blocked with collapsed rocks, slowing rescue efforts.
Al Haouz is known for scenic High Atlas landscapes and Amazigh villages built into mountainsides.
Later Saturday morning in Marrakesh, ambulances and motorcycles whirred by the edge of the old city, where business as usual mostly resumed Saturday morning.
A historic mosque in Marrakesh was left badly damaged by the quake, which hit at just after 11pm on Friday
Tourists and passersby navigated roadblocks and snapped photos of sections of the clay ochre wall that had cracked, spilling fragments and dust onto the sidewalk and street.
A mosque minaret has also fallen in Jemaa al-Fna Square, the heart of Marrakesh’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Montasir Itri, a resident of the mountain village of Asni near the epicentre, said most houses there were damaged. ‘Our neighbours are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village,’ he said.
Elsewhere urgent supplies were seen being loaded onto trucks by the Civil Defence department, ready for distribution to those in need.