In Morocco, rescue efforts continue as hopes dwindle in the search for survivors following a powerful earthquake that struck on Friday. Rescuers are resorting to using their bare hands in the desperate race against time. The earthquake, the deadliest in the country in 60 years, has claimed the lives of 2,681 people.
Morocco’s government is facing mounting pressure to accept additional international aid, as exhaustion sets in among the rescue teams. So far, assistance has been accepted from only four countries: Spain, the UK, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Government officials defended this decision, citing concerns about potential chaos if teams from around the world were to arrive suddenly.
The 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck the High Atlas mountains south of Marrakesh, causing widespread destruction in rural and remote villages. In Tafeghaghte, one of the affected villages, the population of 200 people has been nearly halved, with many still missing. Roads blocked by boulders and debris have hindered the progress of heavy lifting equipment, prompting helicopters to deliver aid to the mountainous regions.
Albert Vasquez, a communications officer for a team of 30 Spanish firefighters, expressed the difficulty of finding survivors after three days but held onto hope. Meanwhile, in the village of Moulay Brahim, Said recounted the tragic collapse of his neighbor’s house, which claimed the lives of a mother and her four children. The impact of the disaster has left Said in a state of shock and disbelief.
Tom Godfrey, the team lead for UK rescue charity EMT, emphasized the urgent need for humanitarian relief in the southwest, where the worst impact has been felt. Traumatic injuries are expected to be the immediate focus, with the risk of disease increasing if aid is further delayed.
The World Health Organization reported that over 300,000 people have been affected by this earthquake, the deadliest in Morocco since the 1960 Agadir earthquake, which claimed 12,000 to 15,000 lives. Additionally, historic sites like the Tinmel Mosque and Marrakesh’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, have suffered significant damage.
Calls for more international aid have grown louder, with nations such as the United States, Tunisia, Turkey, Taiwan, and France offering support. Even neighboring Algeria, despite historical tensions with Morocco, has extended assistance. However, Morocco’s government remains cautious about managing the influx of aid, emphasizing the importance of coordination in relief efforts.
Dr. Clare McCaughey, a GP based in Marrakesh, highlighted the willingness of private clinics to provide free care to earthquake victims, praising the resilience and support of the local community. Efforts to deliver aid to affected areas continue, with both large trucks and individuals making contributions to assist those in need.