The death toll in Morocco earthquake, the country’s biggest earthquake in over a century, rose to more than 2,800 people. Following the quake, rescue operations are underway and search teams from Spain, Britain and Qatar joined Moroccan efforts to find survivors from the 6.8 magnitude quake that struck in the High Atlas Mountains late on Friday, flattening the traditional mud brick houses ubiquitous in the region.
According to State TV reported late on Monday, September 11, the death toll had risen to 2,862, with 2,562 people injured. With much of the quake zone in hard-to-reach areas, authorities have not issued any estimates for the number of missing.
In the village of Tinmel, almost every house has crumbled into dust and the entire community been left homeless. Several villagers have been trapped under the rubble, and survivors continue to look for their family members.
Elhasan, a resident, said he searched for his son as he cried for help. But eventually the cries stopped, and by the time he reached his son, he was dead. Elhasan and his wife and daughter remained inside their home and survived.
People have been rescuing people on their own too. In Tikekhte, where few buildings have been left standing, 66-year-old Mohamed Ouchen described how residents rescued 25 people.
The epicentre of the quake was about 72 km (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech, where some historical buildings in the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were damaged. The quake also did major damage to the historically significant 12th-century Tinmel Mosque.
More modern parts of Marrakech largely escaped unscathed, including a site near the airport earmarked for IMF and World Bank meetings, due to be held next month.
Over 10,000 people are expected at the meetings, which the Moroccan government wants to proceed, sources said.
Rescue Operations Continue
After an initial response that was described as too slow by some survivors, tent camps appeared in some locations by Monday night as people spent a fourth night outdoors.
The army said it was reinforcing search-and-rescue teams, providing drinking water, and distributing food, tents and blankets.
A major road connecting the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech was gridlocked on Monday evening as heavy vehicles and volunteers carrying relief supplies headed towards some of the hardest-hit communities.
Moroccan volunteers and civilians, aided by some foreigners, helped direct traffic and clear the road of rock debris.
Morocco has accepted offers of aid from Spain and Britain, which both sent search-and-rescue specialists with sniffer dogs, and from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Algeria said it had allocated three planes to transport rescue personnel and aid. State TV said the Moroccan government might accept relief offers from other countries later.
(Inputs from Reuters)