World News

Morocco Earthquake Victims Rise To 2,122, Children Worst Hit

Morocco Earthquake Victims Rise To 2,122, Children Worst Hit
  • PublishedSeptember 11, 2023
  • Yusuf Oketola

The death toll from a 6.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Morocco on Friday has risen above 2,000.

This is as the African country races against time to save those trapped under the rubble.

Scenes from rescue efforts so far
The scenes

As response teams struggle to bring machinery to dig the rubble, villagers continue to dig by hand and shovel to find survivors, a report by BBC says.

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According to reports, Friday’s earthquake is the country’s deadliest in 60 years.

The government of Morocco reported that at least 2,122 people were killed and more than 2,421 injured, many critically as of the time of filing this report.

The tremor collapsed homes, blocked roads, and swayed buildings as far away as the country’s northern coast, BBC reported.

Marrakesh’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, suffered damage.

As the aftermath of the earthquake continued to unfold, King Mohammed VI declared three days of national mourning on Saturday.

According to reports, many buildings have been reduced to rubble in the small town of Amizmiz, in a valley in the mountains about 34 miles (55km) south of Marrakesh.

The BBC reports that the local hospital is empty and deemed unsafe to enter. Patients are instead treated in tents on the hospital grounds – but staff are overwhelmed.

A hospital official, who asked not to be named, said that around 100 bodies were brought there on Saturday.

“I was crying because there were so many dead people, especially the young children,” he said, adding, “Since the earthquake, I haven’t slept. None of us have.”

The streets are also packed with rubble from destroyed buildings, heavy traffic, and those who have lost everything to the quake.

Sixty-three-year-old Abdelkarim Brouri, whose house is partially collapsed and has nothing to protect him from the elements, said, “I can’t go back home.”

“We’re helping each other. There’s no help coming from outside,” he added.

International efforts to aid the recovery have, however, begun to increase in pace.

The United Kingdom said Morocco had accepted an offer to deploy emergency response teams, including rescue specialists, a medical team, search dogs, and equipment.

Spain and Qatar have also said they received formal requests and would send search and rescue teams, BBC reports.

France said it “stood ready” to help but was awaiting a formal request from Morocco. “The second they request this aid, it will be deployed,” said President Emmanuel Macron.

The United States said “Search and rescue teams ready to deploy… We are also ready to release funds at the right time.”

Turkey, which suffered its own catastrophic quake in February that killed 50,000, had also offered but received no formal request.

Caroline Holt, of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told Reuters that the next “two to three days will be critical for finding people trapped under the rubble.”

Meanwhile, the BBC said relatives began to bury dozens of dead in the almost entirely destroyed village of Tafeghaghte, 37 miles (60km) southwest of Marrakesh.

“Three of my grandchildren and their mother are dead,” said 72-year-old Omar Benhanna. “They’re still under the debris. It wasn’t so long ago that we were playing together.

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