May 24, 2024

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Aftershocks shake Morocco, with the death toll from the earthquake rising to 2,100 people

Aftershocks shake Morocco, with the death toll from the earthquake rising to 2,100 people

An aftershock shook Moroccans on Sunday as they mourned earthquake victims The strongest earthquake in the country For more than a century it has sought to rescue survivors as soldiers and relief workers race to reach devastated mountain villages. The disaster claimed the lives of more than 2,100 people, a number that is expected to rise.

The United Nations estimated that 300,000 people were affected by the 6.8-magnitude earthquake that occurred on Friday night, and some Moroccans complained on social media that the government was not allowing more foreign aid. International relief crews were about to deploy, but some became frustrated while waiting for the government to formally request assistance.

“We know there is an extremely urgent need to rescue people and dig under the rubble of buildings,” said Arnaud Freis, founder of Rescue Without Borders, who had a team stuck in Paris waiting for the go-ahead. “There are people dying under the rubble, and we cannot do anything to save them.”

Help has been slow to arrive in Amizmiz, where an entire portion of the town’s orange-red sandstone houses carved into the mountainside appear to be missing. The minaret of a mosque collapsed.

Rescue teams recover one body from under the rubble, following a deadly earthquake in Ouarkan, Morocco, September 10, 2023.

Hannah McKay/Reuters


“It’s a disaster,” said Salah Ancio, 28, a villager. “We don’t know what the future is.” Aid is still insufficient.”

Help has been slow to arrive in Amizmiz, where an entire portion of the town’s orange-red sandstone houses carved into the mountainside appear to be missing. The minaret of a mosque collapsed.

“It’s a disaster,” said Salah Ancio, 28, a villager. “We don’t know what the future is.” Aid is still insufficient.”

Those left homeless — or fearful of further aftershocks — slept outside on Saturday, in the streets of Marrakesh’s old city or under makeshift awnings in hard-hit Mount Atlas towns like Moulay Brahim. The worst devastation occurred in hard-to-reach rural communities because roads winding over the mountainous terrain were covered in fallen rocks.

These areas were shaken again on Sunday by an aftershock measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale, according to the US Geological Survey. It was not immediately clear whether it caused more damage or casualties, but it was likely strong enough to unnerve nerves in areas where damage had made buildings unstable and residents feared aftershocks.

Friday’s earthquake toppled buildings that were not strong enough to withstand such a strong earthquake, trapping people under the rubble and causing others to flee in terror. The Interior Ministry reported that a total of 2,122 people were confirmed dead and at least 2,421 others were injured – 1,404 of them in serious condition.

The ministry said that most of the dead – 1,351 – were in the Al Haouz region in the High Atlas Mountains.

Flags were flown at half-mast across Morocco, as King Mohammed VI ordered a three-day national mourning starting Sunday. The army mobilized search and rescue teams, and the king ordered water, food rations and shelters to be sent to those who lost their homes.

He also called on mosques to hold Sunday prayers for the victims, many of whom were buried Saturday amid the frenzy of rescue work nearby.

But Morocco did not make an international appeal for help, as Turkey did in the hours following the devastating earthquake that occurred earlier this year, according to aid groups.

Offers of aid poured in from all over the world, and the United Nations said it had a team in Morocco to coordinate international support. Rescue Without Borders said that about 100 teams of 3,500 rescuers are registered with a United Nations platform and are ready to deploy to Morocco when requested to do so. The German news agency reported that Germany had a team of more than 50 rescuers waiting near Cologne Bonn Airport, but returned them to their country.

In a sign that Morocco may be willing to accept more assistance, a Spanish search and rescue team arrived in Marrakesh and headed to the rural area of ​​Talaat Yacoub, according to the Spanish military emergency unit. Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albarez said in a radio interview that the Moroccan authorities had requested assistance. Another rescue team from Nice, France was also on its way.

In France, which has many ties to Morocco and said that four of its citizens died in the earthquake, towns and cities offered more than two million euros ($2.1 million) in aid. Famous performers collect donations.

In a sign that Morocco may be willing to accept more assistance, a Spanish search and rescue team arrived in Marrakesh and headed to the rural area of ​​Talaat Yacoub, according to the Spanish military emergency unit. Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albarez said in a radio interview that the Moroccan authorities had requested assistance. Another rescue team from Nice, France was also on its way.

In France, which has many ties to Morocco and said that four of its citizens died in the earthquake, towns and cities offered more than two million euros ($2.1 million) in aid. Famous performers collect donations.

There was no time to mourn as survivors tried to salvage anything from the damaged homes.

Khadija Firouj’s face was swollen from crying as she joined her relatives and neighbors as they moved their belongings through the stone-strewn streets. She lost her daughter and three grandchildren, ages 4 to 11, when their house collapsed while they were sleeping less than 48 hours ago.

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