The death toll from the earthquake that struck Morocco has not risen since Friday night. Data published by Moroccan state television SNRT this Sunday afternoon indicated 2,122 deaths and 2,421 injuries.
Among the dead were four French nationals and one Spaniard. The number of serious injuries has not been officially updated, but there were more than 1,400 yesterday, the interior ministry said. As of this Sunday, Morocco had authorized the entry of teams from Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. According to Rabat, “the country does not need any other form of aid at this time”.
The biggest fear among people is that the standing buildings may now begin to collapse or new shocks may occur. Due to the fragility of the houses, people are afraid to return to their homes and therefore, sleep on the streets of Marrakesh.
This is the case of Mohamed Ayat Elhaj. The 51-year-old man decided to stay on the street with his family after finding some cracks in the walls of his house. “I cannot sleep there. I am asking the authorities to help me and bring an expert to assess whether it is possible to return home or not. If there is danger, I will not return home,” he told Reuters.
Nureddin Lahbabi, 68, also spent the night on the street with her four children, saying the devastation and damage caused by the earthquake created anguish. “It was a harrowing experience,” he explains.
People gathered in the open on the roadsides. Eleven-year-old Jowra told her father that she was uncomfortable sharing space with so many strangers.
It is considered to be the strongest earthquake in the last 120 years and the worst in the last 60 years. Earthquakes that recorded the highest number of deaths occurred in 2004 (more than 600 people) and in 1960 (more than 12 thousand people).
Rescue operations continue
In the village of Amismis, located near the epicenter, rescue teams continue to search for survivors. Everyone knows the scene of destruction: narrow streets blocked by debris and about ten bodies covered in blankets at the entrance to the hospital. Morocco has declared three days of national mourning and King Mohammed VI has asked for prayers to be held this Sunday for the victims of the earthquake.
“When I felt the earth shaking under my feet and the house tilting, I ran to get my children out. But my neighbors couldn’t,” says Mohammad Asao. “Unfortunately, they did not find anyone alive in that family. The father and son were found dead and are still searching for their mother and daughter”, he explained.
The situation is similar in Asni, about 40 km south of Marrakesh. “Our neighbors are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using the roads in the village,” Montasir Idri said. As most of the houses in the area were damaged, the locals decided to spend the night on the streets. Mohamed Ohammo also said that food was becoming scarce considering that the roof had collapsed and destroyed the kitchens.
Ten people, including two youths, are being mourned in Danskard village in Asni region, a resident said. It is one of the most earthquake affected areas. Reuters reports on the case of Abdellatif Aid Bella, who suffered multiple head injuries from the debris. “We have nowhere to take him and we haven’t eaten since yesterday,” said his wife Saida Potcic, who fears for the future of their family of six.
Rescue teams face some difficulties, especially in more remote and rugged areas. Parts of a cliff fell near the town of Moulay Brahim, blocking the road that connects Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains. The Moroccan armed forces will begin sending rescue teams to distribute drinking water, food, blankets and other supplies to the most disadvantaged areas.
More than 300,000 people in and around Marrakesh were affected by the earthquake, the World Health Organization said. “The next 24 to 48 hours will be critical to saving lives,” said Carolina Holt, global director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Cross.
The tremor was felt with lesser intensity in Portugal and Spain.
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