Media reports say rescuers are searching through rubble and trying to reach isolated communities after a devastating earthquake struck Morocco, killing thousands and leaving more injured or unaccounted for.

CNN says the quake is the strongest to hit the nation’s center in more than a century, and its epicenter was not far from popular tourist and economic hub Marrakech.

Citing Moroccan state media, Reuters reported today that at least 2,862 people have been killed in the disaster and 2,562 have been injured.

Search teams from Spain, Britain and Qatar reportedly joined Moroccan efforts to find survivors from the 6.8 magnitude quake that struck in the High Atlas Mountains late on Friday, flattening the traditional mud brick houses ubiquitous in the region.

The earthquake reportedly struck at around 11.11 pm local time on Friday.  Its epicenter was located in the High Atlas mountain range, about 72 kilometers southwest of Marrakech, a city of about 840,000 people.

The quake’s impact could be felt far and wide, reaching as far north as Casablanca.

But it most severely damaged towns and villages near the base of the Atlas Mountains, while also ripping through the center and suburbs of Marrakech.

The quake reportedly had a magnitude of 6.8, meaning it is classed as “strong.”  It also struck at a relatively shallow depth, making it more destructive.

Morocco has suffered earthquakes in the past, but few in its history have been so powerful.  This quake is Morocco’s deadliest since 1960, when an earthquake killed more than 12,000 people.

The US Geological Survey notes that earthquakes of this size in the region are uncommon, but not unexpected.  According to it, nine quakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher have hit the area since 1900, but none of them have had a magnitude higher than 6.0.