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Oregonians with ties to Morocco speak on impact of tragic earthquake

A 6.8 magnitude quake hit Marrakech on Sept. 8 and has killed more than 2,000 people.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A devastating, 6.8 magnitude earthquake shook Morocco on Friday night. The epicenter of the quake hit the High Atlas Mountains, south of the city of Marrakech. While Morocco is thousands of miles from the Pacific Northwest, Moroccan families here are worried all the same. 

"Just pray right now," said Karim, a Moroccan living in Portland. "Just ask everybody to pray for Morocco."

Karim's wife and daughter are in Morocco; they were visiting when they felt the quake.

"My heart felt broken and I called them as soon as I got off work," he said. 

Naji Bouhmid, the owner of Kasbah Moroccan Café in Old Town, did the same thing, calling his family as soon as he heard the news.

"People start calling, start checking on each other, sharing phone numbers," Bouhmid said. "It's touching for everyone. I've got a big family. It was tough to call different regions."

RELATED: Powerful quake in Morocco kills more than 2,000 people and damages historic buildings in Marrakech

Both men said their families are safe but also scared. 

"The streets were full of people and they were panicking and they did not know what to do," Karim said.

Many Moroccans spent the night outside, fearful of an aftershock. 

"They were afraid to go back to where they live, so they were just everybody in the streets waiting for another earthquake," Karim said.

Karim said he just wants his wife and daughter home safely. 

"I can't wait to see them back here in Portland," he said.

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