Aftershock rattles Morocco as death toll from earthquake surpasses 2,100

14:17 10.09.2023

Moroccan towns and villages were hit by an aftershock on Sunday as they mourned the victims of the country's strongest earthquake in over a century. The disaster has so far claimed the lives of more than 2,100 people, with that number expected to rise. The United Nations estimated that 300,000 people were affected by the magnitude 6.8 quake on Friday night, with some Moroccans expressing frustration on social media that the government wasn't allowing more outside help. International aid teams were ready to deploy, but were waiting for an official request from the government. Arnaud Fraisse, founder of Rescuers Without Borders, said, "There are people dying under the rubble, and we cannot do anything to save them."

The town of Amizmiz was particularly badly affected, with whole sections of orange and red sandstone brick homes carved into the mountainside missing. A mosque's minaret had also collapsed. Villager Salah Ancheu described the situation as a catastrophe and complained that aid was insufficient. Many of those left homeless or fearing aftershocks slept outside in the streets or makeshift shelters in towns such as Moulay Brahim. The worst destruction occurred in hard-to-reach rural communities where roads were covered by fallen rocks.

On Sunday, an aftershock with a magnitude of 3.9 further shook these areas, potentially causing more damage and casualties. Many buildings in these regions were already unstable, leaving residents anxious and afraid of further aftershocks. The initial earthquake toppled buildings that were not strong enough to withstand such a powerful tremor, trapping people under the rubble and forcing others to flee in terror. The Interior Ministry reported that 2,122 people had been confirmed dead, with at least 2,421 others injured, 1,404 of them critically. Most of the deaths, 1,351, occurred in the Al Haouz district in the High Atlas Mountains.

Flags were lowered across Morocco, and King Mohammed VI ordered three days of national mourning. 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. However, Morocco has not yet made an international appeal for help, unlike Turkey did after a previous earthquake. Despite this, offers of aid poured in from around the world, and the United Nations said it had a team in Morocco coordinating international support. Around 100 teams, consisting of a total of 3,500 rescuers, were registered with a U.N. platform and ready to deploy in Morocco upon request.

A Spanish search and rescue team arrived in Marrakech, and a team from Nice, France, was also on its way. In France, which has many ties to Morocco and had four citizens killed in the quake, towns and cities offered over 2 million euros ($2.1 million) in aid, with popular performers collecting donations. Survivors, meanwhile, were focused on salvaging what they could from their damaged homes. Khadija Fairouje, who lost her daughter and three grandsons in the collapse of their home, joined relatives and neighbors in hauling possessions down the rock-strewn streets.

In the town of Amizmiz, where aid crews began to arrive, residents swept the rubble off the main road leading to town but pleaded for more help. Ayoub Toudite, a resident of Moulay Brahim, described the earthquake as a "huge shake like it was doomsday" and said that everything was gone in just ten seconds. The Spanish military sent an air force plane carrying an urban search and rescue team to Marrakech in response to a request for help from Moroccan authorities. France also offered significant aid, and Moroccan citizens, such as Jalila Guerina, were lining up to donate blood to help those in need. However, many survivors in remote towns and villages expressed concerns about their future, as they lacked the financial means to rebuild their lives. The search and rescue efforts continued, with military vehicles and equipment being brought in to clear roads and ambulances transporting the wounded to hospitals in Marrakech.

/ Sunday, September 10, 2023, 2:17 PM /

themes:  Military  War

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