On September 8, 2023, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, an area unaccustomed to such seismic events. This earthquake, which proved to be the deadliest in the country in over 60 years, claimed the lives of more than 2,900 people, injured nearly 6,000, and caused widespread destruction.

According to experts, traditional construction methods, like using mud-brick and unreinforced masonry constructions, worsened the impact, leading to collapses in buildings and residential properties. Morocco’s lack of frequent earthquakes led to the construction of buildings not designed to withstand strong shaking, contributing to the high death toll.

Experts then emphasized the need to improve seismic building design codes and reinforce existing traditional homes to minimize future earthquake damage. However, implementing regulations to construct earthquake-resistant buildings in remote regions like the High Atlas Mountains is challenging due to limited resources.

In the wake of the recent earthquake in Morocco, which claimed the lives of thousands,  Real Research, an online survey app, attempted to gather opinions regarding the crucial need for earthquake-resistant buildings in countries prone to seismic activity, highlighting the profound impact of such natural disasters on society.

Here are the key findings of the survey report:

  • Traditional construction methods, mainly mud bricks, were responsible for the high death toll in Morocco, opined 85.13%
  • 66.35% were surprised to learn that, on average, collapsed buildings cause $2.1 billion in damage and 10,000 deaths a year.
  • 90.65% expressed confidence in earthquake-resistant constructions in limiting casualties and damage.

What Caused Morocco’s High Death Toll?

The survey on the need for countries to have earthquake-resistant buildings began by addressing the participants’ awareness of the recent earthquake in Morocco. Of the respondents, 52.38% were well aware of the event, 39.34% had a vague awareness, and 8.28% were completely unaware of the tragedy.

Figure 1: Respondents' perception of traditional construction methods as the main cause of the Moroccan death toll
Figure 1: Respondents’ perception of traditional construction methods as the main cause of the Moroccan death toll

The death toll marks Morocco’s deadliest quake. Traditional buildings, which mostly consisted of mud bricks, are blamed for the massive casualties. A critical question then probed participants about their belief in traditional construction methods being responsible for the high death toll in Morocco.

The majority (85.13%) of the respondents believe it was, with 37.34% firmly stating “absolutely” and 47.79% believing it was to a limited extent. Meanwhile, 12.1% believed it wasn’t in particular, while 2.77% did not agree at all.

Earthquake Damage Statistics — Did You Know?

Respondents were also asked to share their opinions on the likelihood of other countries taking necessary measures to prevent casualties in the aftermath of the Morocco earthquake.

A significant 58.96% believed it was “extremely likely,” and 33.06% thought it was “somewhat likely.” In contrast, 5.61% said “somewhat unlikely,” while the rest, 2.37%, said “extremely unlikely.”

Figure 2: Percentage of respondents surprised by the earthquake damage statistics
Figure 2: Percentage of respondents surprised by the earthquake damage statistics

According to earthquake experts, collapsing buildings cause an average of $2.1 billion in damage and 10,000 deaths annually. The survey found that these statistics were unknown for most (66.35%), with 38.18% somewhat surprised and 28.17% extremely surprised to have the information. On the other hand, 26.35% were somewhat unsurprised, while 7.3% were unsurprised.

Importance of Earthquake-Resistant Buildings

Earthquake-prone Japan has been taking measures to construct earthquake-resistant buildings and infrastructure since 1923. Participants were then asked about the effectiveness of earthquake-resistant constructions in limiting casualties and damage.

Figure 3: Can earthquake-resistant constructions limit casualties and damage?
Figure 3: Can earthquake-resistant constructions limit casualties and damage?

48.34% were confident in the idea, stating “absolutely,” while 42.31% expressed a slightly less assured perspective with “probably.” In contrast, only a few, 7.31%, believed it would probably not be effective, and the rest, 2.04%, were sure it would not.

“Base Isolation” Systems: Yes or No?

The World Economic Forum recommends buildings be fitted with “base isolation” systems to separate the building from its foundations using springs or runners. This recommendation was met with a resounding 69.94% support from the participants, who advocated for its mandatory adoption in new construction. The remaining 30.06%, however, are against it.

The costs of implementing the World Economic Forum’s recommendations for construction are very high. As a result, some countries have been exploring simple and cost-effective strategies to mitigate earthquake damage.

Thus, the respondents were queried about their opinions on suggesting cheaper alternatives for the “base isolation” system. A significant 59.99% strongly advocated for this approach. Meanwhile, 33.59% thought it was probably a good idea, 4.68% were doubtful, and merely 1.74% vehemently opposed it.


Survey TitleSurvey on the Need for Countries To Have Earthquake-Resistant Buildings
DurationSeptember 27 – October 4, 2023
Number of Participants10,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.