TIMELINES: What Moroccan city was reduced to ruins in a leap year earthquake Feb. 29, 1960?

February 29, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012


Feb. 29, 1960, at least one-third of the population of Agadir, Morocco—a city located south of Casablanca near the Atlantic Ocean—is killed in a brief, but devastating, earthquake and tsunami. The magnitude-5.7 quake strikes the beach city of Agadir close to midnight causing massive casualties, utter destruction of much of the cities buildings, and a power outage leaving the entire city in darkness. The earthquake lasts a mere 15 seconds, but due to the city’s inadequate stonework, lack of earthquake preparedness, and tsunami that travels 300 yards inland, approximately 12,000 people are killed, as many injured, and the city is reduced to ruins. Ancient Kasbah is almost entirely destroyed. At the time of the earthquake, Agadir is a little known, but growing, tourist town with emerging beach resorts and luxury hotels.


Today, more than 50 years after the devastating earthquake, the beaches of Agadir are one of Morocco’s premier tourist attractions and a vital source of national income. Although the resort city has flourished in recent years, it has not been unaffected by the global recession and political unrest across North Africa last year. According to Middle East Online, last month, Agadir registered a 20 percent drop in visitor arrivals compared to the same period in 2011.