Morocco survivors seek aid as earthquake toll passes 2,100
On Sunday, survivors of the deadliest Moroccan earthquake in over six decades were still struggling to find shelter, food and water as the search continued for missing people in remote villages. The death toll was expected to increase to more than 2,100.
After the earthquake of 6.8 magnitude struck late Friday, many people spent a third night sleeping in the open. The challenge for relief workers is to reach the most affected villages in the High Atlas. This rugged mountain range, where settlements can be remote and many houses have collapsed, has been hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake late on Friday.
State TV reported that the death toll had risen to 2,122, with 2,421 injured. Morocco has said that it will accept any offers of assistance from other countries, and work with them to coordinate if necessary. This was reported by state television.
Local media reports of the collapsed 12th century mosque made it more apparent that damage had been done to Morocco’s culture. It also caused damage to parts of the old city of Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Residents in Moulay Brahim (a village located 40 km south of Marrakech) described digging the dead out of the rubble with their bare fingers. Residents buried a 45 year-old woman and her 18-year old son on a hillside overlooking their village. The woman was sobbing as she lowered the body into the grave.
Hussein Adnaie, as he recovered possessions from the damaged house he was living in, said that he thought people might still be buried under the rubble.
They didn’t receive the help they needed, so they died. Adnaie: “I rescued my kids and I am trying to find covers and clothes for them from the house.”
Yassin, Noumghar, 36 complained about water, food, and power shortages, saying that he has received very little help from the government.
Noumghar stated, “We lost it all. We lost our entire home.” “We just want our government to assist us.”
Later, food sacks were unloaded by a truck that local official Mouhamad Al-Hayyan claimed had been organized by the government and civil societies organisations.
Staff reported that 25 bodies were brought to a small clinic in the village.
Many homes were built from mud bricks, timber, or cement with breeze blocks. Structures crumbled quickly. The earthquake was the deadliest in Morocco since 1960, when at least 12,000 people were killed.
Residents in the severely damaged village of Amizmiz watched rescuers use a mechanical digger to dig out a house that had collapsed.
They are searching for a father and son. Hassan Halouch is a retired contractor. “One of them may still be alive.”
The team recovered only dead bodies.
In order to assist in the rescue efforts, the army set up tent camps for the homeless. Residents struggled to find food and supplies because most shops were damaged or closed.
“We are still waiting for tents.” Mohammed Nejjar said, “We haven’t received anything yet.” Mohammed Nejjar was a worker who was folding a blanket in an makeshift shelter made of bits of wood. I had some food given to me by a man, but that was all since the earthquake. There isn’t a single store open and people are afraid to enter in case the roof collapses.
The epicentre of the quake was located 72 km (45 mi) southwest of Marrakech. This city is a favorite of Moroccans and tourists alike for its richly decorated medieval mosques, seminaries, and palaces with vibrant mosaic tiles, all nestled in a maze of rose-hued streets.
On Sunday, the government announced that it had set up a fund to help those who were affected by this earthquake. The government also announced that it was strengthening search-and rescue teams, distributing drinking water, and providing food, tents, and blankets. World Health Organization reported that more than 300,000. people were affected by this disaster.
Spain announced that 56 officers with four sniffer dog teams have arrived in Morocco. A second team consisting of 30 people, four dogs and a third team is on its way. Britain announced that it would be deploying 60 search and rescue specialists, four dogs and a four-person team of medical assessors on Sunday. Qatar’s search-and rescue team has also left for Morocco.
U.S. president Joe Biden expressed “sadness” about the death toll and destruction caused by the earthquake.
Biden said at a Hanoi, Vietnam news conference that “we are ready to provide any assistance necessary to the Moroccan People”.
A U.S. official confirmed that a small group of disaster experts sent by the United States to Morocco arrived on Sunday in order to assess the situation.
France stated that it was ready to assist and was waiting for a formal request by Morocco.
Turkey was another country that offered assistance. In February, there were earthquakes in Turkey which killed over 50,000 people. The Turkish team was still in Turkey on Sunday.
Caroline Holt (IFRC’s global director of operations) told Reuters that the next two or three days are crucial for finding those trapped under the rubble.
Holt stated that the international aid system had been waiting for an invite from Morocco to provide assistance, and added this was not unusual because the government evaluates its needs.
Pope Francis expressed his prayers and solidarity with the victims.
Morocco has declared three mourning days and King Mohammed VI has called for prayers to be held in mosques throughout the country.