Death toll from earthquake in Morocco crosses 2,800, hope remains for survivors

Death toll from earthquake in Morocco crosses 2,800, hope remains for survivors

Morocco earthquake: State TV reports the death toll has risen to 2,862 with 2,562 injured.

Villagers cried for relatives lost in the debris of their homes on Monday as the death toll from Morocco’s deadliest earthquake in more than six decades rose to more than 2,800 and rescue teams scrambled to find survivors. Are working hard.

Search teams from Spain, Britain and Qatar were joining rescue efforts in Morocco after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the High Atlas mountains late Friday, whose epicenter was 72 km (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech.

State TV said the death toll had risen to 2,862 and 2,562 people were injured. Rescue workers said the chances of finding survivors were slim as traditional mud-brick houses, ubiquitous in the region, had collapsed.

The dead included 7-year-old Suleiman Aytnasr, whose mother took him to her bedroom after he fell asleep in the living room of their home in a village outside Talaat N’Yaqoub, one of the hardest-hit areas. He was about to start a new school year.

“As soon as she came back, there was an earthquake and the roof was destroyed and fell on top of her,” said Suleiman’s father, Brahim Aytnaser, whose eyes were red from crying. He spent Monday trying to retrieve belongings from the debris of his home.

In the village of Tagadirete, where few buildings survived, Mohammed Auchen, 66, described how residents pulled 25 people alive from the debris immediately after the quake.

One of those rescued was his own sister.

“We were busy in rescue work, since we did not have equipment, we used our hands,” he said. “His head was visible and we kept digging by hand.”

Footage from the remote village of Imi N’Tala, filmed by Spanish rescuer Antonio Nogales of the aid group Bomberos Unidos Sin Fronteras (United Firefighters Without Borders), shows men and dogs climbing steep slopes covered in debris.

“The level of destruction… is absolute,” Nogales said, struggling to find the right words to describe what he was seeing. “Not a single house remained upright.”

Despite the scale of the damage, rescue workers searching with dogs still hope to find survivors, he said.

He said, “I’m sure that some people will be rescued in the coming days, we think there may still be people in the collapsed structures, there may have been some pieces of air and as I say, we never hope.” Leave.” Said.

damage to heritage

After an initial response that some survivors described as too slow, search and rescue efforts appeared to be ramping up on Monday, with tent camps visible in some places where people were preparing for a fourth night outside.

A video filmed by Moroccan outlet 2M showed a military helicopter flying over an area close to the epicenter, dropping sacks of essential supplies for isolated families.

Due to much of the earthquake area being in inaccessible areas, officials have not released any estimates for the number of missing people.

The damage caused to Morocco’s cultural heritage is slowly coming to light. Buildings in the Old City of Marrakesh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were damaged. The earthquake also caused major damage to the historically important 12th century Tinmel Mosque.

Residents of Tinmel, a remote village near the epicenter, where 15 people died, said they were sharing food, water and medicine, but were in desperate need of tents and blankets to shelter from the cold mountain nights. .

aid efforts

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it was the North African country’s deadliest earthquake since 1960, when a single tremor was estimated to have killed at least 12,000 people, and the most powerful earthquake since at least 1900. .

In a televised statement on Sunday, government spokesman Mustafa Betas defended the government’s response, saying everything possible was being done on the ground.

The army said it was strengthening search and rescue teams, providing drinking water and distributing food, tents and blankets.

A major road linking the High Atlas mountains with Marrakesh was blocked on Monday evening as heavy vehicles and volunteers carrying relief supplies headed to some of the hardest-hit communities in remote areas of the mountains.

Moroccan volunteers and citizens, with assistance from some foreigners, helped direct traffic and clear rock debris from the road.

Prime Minister Aziz Akhnouch told local media that the government would compensate the victims, but gave few details.

Two sources familiar with the plan said the Moroccan government wants to press ahead with the International Monetary Fund-World Bank annual meeting to be held in Marrakesh next month.

Morocco has accepted offers of assistance from Spain and Britain, which sent search and rescue experts with sniffer dogs, and also from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. State TV said the government may later accept relief offers from other countries.

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