Mysterious lights spotted in the sky before Moroccan earthquake have baffled scientists
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Videos of bright lights across Morocco's skies are leaving people baffled after the clips were taken shortly before the country's devastating earthquake.
A further 5,500 people have been left injured.
The disaster has been labelled as the deadliest earthquake the country has experienced in decades, and experts believe it may have happened as a result of Africa's tectonic plate moving north and colliding with the Eurasian plate.
But before the earthquake struck, some Moroccans spotted bright lights travelling across the sky.
In one clip shared online, an asteroid-like light shoots across the sky. Other videos demonstrate what looks to be lightening.
While these lights are rare, they're not unheard of and are referred to as 'earthquake lights'.
أحد الأخوان من المغرب الشقيق أرسل لي هذا المقطع الغريب من كاميرا مراقبة لمنزله في مدينة أغادير لحظة وقوع الزلزال…— إياد الحمود (@Eyaaaad) September 9, 2023
ظهرت ومضات ضوء زرقاء غامضة في الأفق ولا أحد يعرف ماهي.
مع العلم أن هذه الأضواء ظهرت نفسها لحظة وقوع زلزال تركيا وسوريا قبل 7 أشهر.
هل يوجد لدى أحد تفسير؟ pic.twitter.com/q845XXSlYu
Explaining the phenomena, geophysicist Friedemann Freund told The Washington Post: “The [Morocco] earthquake happened at nighttime.
"The condition for earthquake lights to be seen by people and maybe even recorded by cameras would be relatively high.”
The so-called earthquake lights are different from the usual lightening bolts you might see during a storm. They reportedly travel from ground to cloud and are activated by electric charges linked to seismic activity within the earth.
As to why people saw different types of bright lights, earthquake lights can come in different shapes and forms.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the lights can present themselves as sheet lightning, balls of light, streamers, and steady glows.
While Freund believes the phenomena is generated by an earthquake’s plate tectonic movement, other times earthquake lights have been seen have been a result of electricity arcing from the power lines shaking.
Earthquake lights, referred to as EQLs by the USGS, appear to be an ongoing debate in geological profession.
While countries like Japan, Haiti, Turkey and Indonesia are classed as 'earthquake-prone', it's apparently 'rare' for a country like Morocco to experience such a devastating quake - but not impossible.
Florent Brenguier, a seismologist at Grenoble University's Institut des Sciences de la Terre, explained to FRANCE 24: "It's important to remember that the whole of Morocco, and the whole Mediterranean region in general, is susceptible to major earthquakes."
Despite quakes being rare, Brenguier added that when they do happen 'their magnitude can be significant'.
"The most striking example is the Agadir earthquake in 1960, which killed 12,000 people and virtually destroyed the entire city," he added.