Powerful earthquake hits Morocco, nearly 300 reportedly dead

Morocco's government says nearly 300 people have died after an estimated magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country.

The United States Geological Survey says the quake occurred around 11:11 p.m. Friday, local time. The epicenter was roughly 70 kilometers southwest of Marrakech at a depth of about 18 kilometers.

Morocco's interior ministry said in a statement that 296 people have been confirmed dead so far.

The Reuters news agency reported that buildings have collapsed in multiple cities, forcing residents to flee.

It released footage believed to have been taken immediately after the quake in central Morocco's Marrakech showing collapsed buildings, debris and cars crushed beneath the rubble.

Many people appeared to have taken refuge outdoors in the darkness.

Local authorities are surveying the damage.