Morocco Earthquake Causes Over 2000 Deaths

( – Survivors of Morocco’s most devastating earthquake in over sixty years faced dire conditions on Sunday as they grappled with a scarcity of essential provisions such as food, water, and shelter. Meanwhile, the search for missing individuals continued in remote villages, with the death toll exceeding 2,100 and the grim expectation that it would rise further.

Following the powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck late on Friday, many individuals were forced to endure a third night exposed to the elements. Relief efforts encountered significant obstacles in reaching the hardest-hit villages within the rugged High Atlas mountain range, where settlements are often isolated and numerous houses were reduced to rubble.

The death toll had risen to 2,122, with 2,421 people injured in the aftermath of the disaster. The earthquake also left a trail of destruction in Morocco’s cultural heritage, with reports of the collapse of a historically significant 12th-century mosque. In addition, parts of Marrakech’s ancient city, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, suffered damage.

Residents of Moulay Brahim, a village located 40 km south of Marrakech, shared harrowing stories of retrieving the deceased from the debris using their bare hands. On a hillside overlooking the village, a 45-year-old woman and her 18-year-old son were laid to rest, with mournful wails accompanying the somber ceremony.

Hussein Adnaie, who was salvaging belongings from his damaged home, expressed his belief that there were still individuals trapped beneath nearby rubble due to insufficient rescue efforts. He lamented, “They didn’t receive the necessary assistance, and as a result, they perished. I managed to rescue my children, and now I’m trying to find blankets and clothing for them from what remains of our home.”

Yassin Noumghar, aged 36, voiced his frustration over shortages of water, food, and electricity, stating that government aid had been minimal thus far. “We’ve lost everything, our entire home,” he said. “All we ask is for our government to assist us.”

Later, sacks of food arrived in the village via a truck organized by the government and civil society organizations. The village’s small clinic had received twenty-five bodies by that point.

Due to the prevalence of homes constructed with mud bricks and timber or cement and breeze blocks, buildings crumbled with ease during the quake. This disaster marked Morocco’s deadliest earthquake since 1960, when an estimated 12,000 lives were lost in a tremor.

In the severely affected village of Amizmiz, residents watched as rescuers employed mechanical diggers to search for survivors in a collapsed house. Regrettably, they ultimately recovered only lifeless bodies.

The army, mobilized to assist in the rescue operation, set up tents for those left homeless. However, with most shops either damaged or closed, residents faced difficulties in obtaining essential supplies. Mohammed Nejjar, a laborer, revealed, “We’re still waiting for tents. We haven’t received anything yet.” He described the dire circumstances, with a lack of open stores and fear of entering any due to structural instability.

On Saturday, the government announced urgent measures to address the disaster, including bolstering search and rescue teams, providing clean drinking water, and distributing food, tents, and blankets.

Several countries, including Spain, Britain, Qatar, and the United States, offered assistance in the form of search and rescue teams and aid supplies. President Joe Biden expressed his condolences and readiness to assist the Moroccan people. France also expressed its willingness to help once Morocco issued a formal request.

Caroline Holt, the global director of operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), emphasized the critical importance of the next few days for locating survivors trapped under the debris. She explained that the international aid system awaited an invitation from Morocco to provide assistance, a process that is not uncommon as the government assesses its needs.

The World Health Organization reported that more than 300,000 people were affected by the disaster. Pope Francis offered prayers and solidarity for the victims. Morocco declared three days of mourning, and King Mohammed VI called for prayers for the deceased to be held in mosques throughout the country.

The earthquake’s epicenter was located 72 km southwest of Marrakech, a city beloved by Moroccans and tourists alike for its medieval architecture and vibrant mosaic-adorned alleyways.