Official death toll in Morocco earthquake rises to 2,122
The official death toll in the Morocco earthquake has tragically risen to 2,122, marking the deadliest earthquake in the country in over six decades.
The disaster, which struck a remote cluster of mountainous villages south of Marrakesh on Friday, has left more than 2,421 people injured, with many in critical condition.
As the nation grapples with the aftermath of the 6.8-magnitude tremor, a race against time ensues to save survivors buried under the rubble. Emergency services are facing significant challenges, including the difficulty of reaching remote areas and the urgent need for heavy machinery to assist in rescue efforts.
In the affected villages, resilient villagers continue to dig tirelessly by hand and shovel, desperately searching for survivors. However, the lack of adequate equipment hinders their progress. Tragically, the same tools may soon be required to prepare graves for the thousands of lives lost in this devastating quake.
The situation on the ground according to Reuters is dire, with people left with nothing. Starvation and a desperate need for water afflict many, particularly children. They cry out for help as they endure the aftermath of this catastrophic event.
The earthquake’s impact extends far beyond the epicenter, with Marrakesh’s historic old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, suffering damage. In response to the immense scale of devastation, King Mohammed VI declared three days of national mourning, and the royal palace has deployed civil protection units to bolster blood banks, water, food, tents, and blankets.
Yet, reaching the most severely affected regions remains a challenge due to blocked roads and difficult access, especially during the critical hours immediately following the earthquake. Fallen rocks have further impeded travel into the High Atlas Mountains, where many of the worst-affected areas are located.
In Amizmiz, a small town in the mountains, numerous buildings have been reduced to rubble, and the local hospital is deemed unsafe. Patients are receiving treatment in tents on the hospital grounds, but the overwhelmed staff faces the emotional toll of dealing with around 100 bodies brought in on Saturday, including young children.
The streets are filled with rubble, heavy traffic, and the displaced residents who have lost their homes. While some have received tents for shelter, many others are left without protection from the elements, sleeping on rugs laid on the ground in the central square.
Residents in nearby villages have resorted to preparing crude graves marked with sticks and stones for their loved ones, as official support has yet to reach them. International efforts to aid the recovery are gaining momentum, with countries like the UK, Spain, Qatar, France, the US, and Turkey offering assistance, including emergency response teams, medical aid, and search and rescue resources.
Caroline Holt of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies emphasized the critical nature of the next two to three days for finding survivors trapped under the rubble. The world is rallying to support Morocco in this time of dire need as the nation confronts the devastating aftermath of this earthquake.