Morocco quake
The earthquake, which has killed over 2,000 people, hit at around 11 pm (ET) with a 6.8 magnitude. AFP News/FADEL SENNA

The UK has immediately deployed specialist search and rescue teams to Morocco after a huge earthquake hit on Friday night (8 September).

The earthquake, which hit at around 11 pm (ET), had a 6.8 magnitude and was recorded as the country's largest in 60 years.

The earthquake killed more than 2,100 people in its path.

Although earthquakes in Morocco are not unusual, according to the Science Media Centre, "this one is larger and close to the large city of Marrakesh".

The natural disaster, which was unexpected, shredded Marrakesh and parts of the capital Rabat.

The earthquake that shredded Marrakesh, has killed more than 2,000 people.

Tayeb ait Ighenbaz, who is from a small community in the Atlas Mountains, said that he was forced to choose whether to save his son or his parents.

"It all happened so quickly. When the earthquake happened we all ran to the door. My dad was sleeping and I shouted at my mum to come, but she stayed behind to wait for him," Tayeb told reporters.

As his small stone home was collapsing, he made his way back to the exit of the building where he noticed his son and his parents trapped under the debris.

Tayeb spotted his son, only 11 years old, when he saw his small hand poking through the rubble.

After immediately rushing to dig his son out of the stone trap, he turned to rescue his parents. By then, it was too late.

In tears, Tayeb said: "I had to choose between my parents and son."

"I couldn't help my parents because the wall fell over half of their bodies. It's so sad. I saw my parents dying," he added.

Tayeb, his wife and his son are living with other relatives in makeshift tents close to their fallen home. Tayeb also told reporters that all of his money was in his house, and most of his goats had been killed.

Tayeb concluded: "It's like being born again into a new life. No parents, no house, no food, no clothes. I'm 50 years old now and I'm having to start again."

The team that will assist with the catastrophic scene, are being led by Sixty – search and rescue specialists. The group consists of 60 people, four search dogs, rescue equipment and a separate medical assessment team.

Rescue teams from the UK, Spain and Israel have joined Moroccan search teams in pulling people from the rubble.

The team arrived today, Monday 11 September, via two Royal Air Force A400M aircraft that have been provided by the Ministry of Defence.

Grant Shapps, who was recently made Defence Secretary, said: "This is a devastating time for the people of Morocco, particularly those with loved ones they have lost or are missing."

"The UK has taken a leading role in the international effort to enhance search and rescue operations - moving quickly to deploy our unique strategic airlift capabilities, expert personnel and aid. We stand firmly by Morocco as they get through this terrible event," the Defence Secretary added.

Together with the UK, authorities from Spain, Qatar, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have also responded to the disaster.

Christopher Rassi, who works with the Red Cross and is the Head of the Country Cluster Delegation, spoke to reporters from Rabat, the capital city of Morocco.

Today, Mr Rassi noted that the situation remains "very, very difficult" for humanitarian aid workers in the mountainous region.

"The devastation was huge and the situation remains very, very difficult and it's a race against time and that will continue for the next hours," Mr Rassi said.

Mr Rassi continued to reveal that the rescue teams are also "focusing and mapping the other needs that are necessary and providing safe water, sanitation, and warmth for those that are in the mountains".

"We need to make sure that we stop other breaks from forming – the last thing anyone needs right now is a disaster within a disaster... we have to look at this as a marathon, not a sprint," Mr Rassi concluded.