FEARED tourists have told of their horror as an earthquake in Morocco killed more than 1,000 people.
They ducked under tables or ran awayto seek shelter at the pools in Marrakech, a popular tourist destination for Brits.
Video footage showed a huge cloud of dust surrounding the historic World Heritage city as buildings collapsed.
Around 700,000 Brits travel to Morocco every year and it is not known whether there have been any deaths or injuries – but the death toll across the North African country is expected to rise.
In addition to the hundreds of deaths, 700 were injured.
Simon London, 55, from Brent, north London, was in Marrakech, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, for a conference.
He said: “I dove under the little bed in the corner of my room with just my trousers on.
“It was as if someone had attacked the room and shook it. I could hear rattling, I could hear screams and screams. That was really fucking scary.”
Abhay Ashiani, 25, from Aylesbury Bucks, was enjoying dinner at a rooftop restaurant with two friends.
He said: “We saw a huge cloud of smoke. The first thought was that it was terrorism and then you realized it was an earthquake and we had to get out.”
Debra Wilton, who arrived with her husband two hours before the earthquake, said: “The whole building was just shaking, it was so scary.
“The hotel staff were running around like headless chickens. It was just terrible.”
Hampshire student Clara Bennett said she brushed themwhen she heard “that rumble of thunder.”
She added: “It was terrifying. You just have no idea what’s going on. The floors shook violently, the walls shook, things fell off the shelves.
“I went into my bedroom and completely collapsed on the floor because you couldn’t stand. As soon as it was over, you could hear all the screaming outside. It was chaos.”
Friday night’s magnitude 6.8 quake, whose epicenter was high in the mountains about 40 miles away, was the country’s strongest in 120 years and was felt as far away as Portugal.
The Moroccan King Mohammed VI. ordered forces to mobilize both on land and in the air, with search and rescue teams and field hospitals.
There were reports of survivors clawing at debris to reach their loved ones.
Yesterday, witnesses described Marrakech as a ghost town, with some excursionists helping to clear up rubble while others sat stunned with their suitcases.
Old buildings and walls were cracked. The famous 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque – with its 226-foot-tall minaret known as the “Roof of Marrakesh” – is believed to have suffered limited damage. A mosque has partially collapsed in Djemaa el Fna square, known for its sprawling market.
Roads leading into the mountainous region were clogged with vehicles and blocked with debris. Montasir Itri in Asni village said most of the houses there were damaged, adding: “Ourslie under the rubble.”
In Amizmiz, Mohamed Azaw said: “When I felt thatI was shaking under my feet and the house was leaning and I hurried to get my children out.
But my neighbors couldn’t do it. No one in this family was found alive.”
Ayoub Toudite, who lives in Moulay Brahim, pleaded: “We urgently need ambulances. The matter is urgent. Please save us.”
Richard Blewitt from the British Red Cross said: “Unfortunately the full extent of the destruction will only become apparent in the coming days. “We are launching an emergency appeal.”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “The UK continues to support British nationals in the region. “We stand ready to help our Moroccan friends in any way we can.”
The Foreign Office recommended that tourists follow the instructions of local authorities.
It said Marrakech and Agadir airports remained open – but huge queues formed in a rush for departures.
The rush is also expected to worsen as tour operators evacuate groups from the High Atlas and down to Marrakesh.
Housing is already in short supply in the city as buildings are banned in vulnerable areas. The picture showed city dwellers sleeping on the ground.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak: “My thoughts are with everyone affected. The UK stands ready to support our Moroccan friends.”
Other world leaders, including France and Germany, offered their support.
But expert Prof Bill McGuire of University College London warned: “I expect the final death toll will be in the thousands once this is known.”
“As with any large earthquake, aftershocks are likely, which will result in additional casualties and complicate search and rescue operations.”