A devastated woman lies in front of rubble in central Morocco/AFP
Rescue teams on Wednesday stepped up efforts to assist Moroccan mountain villages devastated by a violent earthquake that killed more than 2,900 people, but five days after the disaster, hopes of finding survivors look increasingly dim. It’s coming.
The latest official report said 5,530 people were also injured in the quake, which struck the High Atlas Mountains region southwest of the tourist city of Marrakech (centre) on Friday night.
Faced with the scale of the damage, Morocco accepted aid from Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and sent search and rescue teams to the kingdom.
The Red Cross has requested more than $100 million to address the most pressing needs, including health, water, sanitation and hygiene, after unlocking the first emergency fund.
The quake wreaked havoc in hard-to-reach mountain towns, including Inehede, where 11 of its 200 residents died.
“We lost everything,” said farmer Mohammed al-Mutawak, 56.
In Amizmiz, a town an hour southwest of Marrakech, a group of soldiers distributed tents to residents stranded on the streets.
“All I want is a place to live, a place fit for human beings,” said Fatima Umarul, a 59-year-old resident.
row of tents
Three relief stations have been set up in Taroudant (southwest), where food, blankets and mattresses are being sent by road or helicopter, depending on road conditions.
Captain Fahas Abdullah Al Dosanri of the Qatar Fire Brigade explained that they were intervening in many locations “that vehicles cannot reach.”
In the town of Tikt, where about 60 people died, residents received aid such as baby diapers.
Despite the help, the survivors worry about their immediate fate and fear the rain.
“The authorities didn’t tell us anything about it,” says an indignant Afura Fujia from the village of Tikto. “It’s going to start raining soon, it’s going to get cold, and there are a lot of kids here,” he added.
Moroccan government secretary Aziz Akhanoush vowed on Monday that those who lost their homes would be compensated.
Moroccan forces have set up field hospitals to treat the wounded in isolated areas, including the hard-hit town of Asni in Al-Houz province, just over an hour from Marrakech.
Ministry officials told AFP that teams from the Ministry of Equipment continued work on Wednesday to reopen roads leading to small mountain towns in the province.
“We have cleared roads leading to Igil city, the epicenter of the earthquake, and the nearby city of Agbar,” he said.
The earthquake had a magnitude of 7, according to the Moroccan Center for Scientific and Technical Research, and 6.8, according to the U.S. Geological Service.
It is the most powerful ever measured in the kingdom and the deadliest in the kingdom for over 60 years.
Pope Francis, who visited Morocco in 2019, said on Wednesday that his thoughts were with the “noble Moroccan people.”
“We pray for Morocco and we pray for its people. May the Lord give them the strength to recover,” the Argentine pope said.