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Encephale. 2006 Mar-Apr;32(2 Pt 1):215-21.

[Post-traumatic stress disorder in survivors of the Agadir earthquake (Morocco) in 1960].

[Article in French]

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Centre Psychiatrique Universitaire Ibn Rochd, rue Tarik Ibn Ziad, Casablanca, Maroc.



Agadir City is geologically located on a seismic line. This city witnessed an earthquake in February 1960 with a magnitude of 6 degrees in Richter scale. During this disaster more than 17,000 people died and 60% of the town was destroyed.


Forty years later, the objective of this study was to assess post-traumatic stress disorders at the time of the disaster and currently among this population.


Two groups, matched by gender and age were included: 1) a group (G 1) of 80 earthquake survivors with an age varying from 45 to 70 years ; 2) a control group (G2) with 80 people who experienced accidental events other than the earthquake. The instruments used were: a questionnaire concerning socio-demographic data, and the Post-traumatic Stress Diagnosis Scale-Edna Foa-1995 for the diagnosis of PTSD which was translated in Moroccan Arabic language. The epidemiological survey was conducted in two steps during 13 months. The first step consisted in the inclusion of the first group: victims of the disaster. One hundred and two survivors were contacted and 80 accepted to participate in the study. The second step, concentrated on the inclusion of the other group, according to gender and age of the survivors group. All interviews were conducted in the homes of the participants. Data analysis was performed on a PC microcomputer using Epi info 6.04 French version (Center for disease control and prevention CDC, Atlanta, USA). The statistical analysis was based on the descriptive techniques of statistics.


The main results were: 1) after the traumatic events and retrospectively, survivors from the earthquake had statistically more PTSD than G2: 38.8% vs 20%; 2) at the time of the study, the prevalence of PTSD between the two groups was not significantly different: 10% for the survivors of the earthquake vs 7.5% for G2 (victims of accidents) while the dates of trauma differed; 3) forty years later, the socio-professional life of the survivors was still perturbed.


These results are in accordance with the literature, even if the methodological differences constitute a limiting factor for the comparison. Nevertheless, the persistence of symptoms of PTSD many years later might be explained by the severity of the trauma, the existence of external stimuli, such as the frequent tremors felt in Agadir, the noise, the storms, the earthquake happening in other cities...create a persistent state of hyper-vigilance which maintains and/or worsens the symptoms of PTSD.


In conclusion, 40 years later, survivors are in need of care to overcome symptoms of PTSD. Preventive measures for victims of disasters should perhaps be developed.

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