Morocco is reeling from the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake that struck on Friday night, with widespread damage reported in many towns and villages, particularly in provinces just south of the city of Marrakesh. The quake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, has left a trail of destruction in its wake, flattening entire villages in remote mountain areas.
A Nation in Mourning
The interior ministry has confirmed a grim toll of over 1,400 people with serious injuries, and the death toll continues to rise. Al Haouz province has witnessed the highest number of casualties, followed by Taroudant province. Marrakesh, a UNESCO-protected city, has also suffered considerable damage, although the number of casualties there is comparatively lower.
In response to the disaster, King Mohammed VI has declared three days of national mourning and issued orders for the provision of shelter, food, and assistance to survivors. The armed forces have been mobilized to aid rescue teams, and Moroccans across the country are contributing to the relief effort, including donating blood for the victims.
Flags on all public buildings in Morocco will be flown at half-mast during the three-day mourning period, as a mark of respect for the lives lost in the earthquake.
Devastation in Remote Areas
The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the High Atlas Mountains, approximately 71 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, a popular tourist destination. While Marrakesh felt the tremors, the most severe damage occurred in the remote mountain regions, where many simple mud brick, stone, and timber homes are believed to have collapsed.
Access to these remote areas remains challenging, with mountain roads obstructed by rocks and debris, hampering the efforts of emergency services. Many survivors are spending a second night outdoors, fearing aftershocks, and are desperately short of food and water.
This earthquake stands as Morocco’s deadliest since the devastating 1960 Agadir earthquake, which had a magnitude of 6.7 and claimed over 12,000 lives. Friday’s earthquake was also the most powerful to hit the country in more than a century.
The international community has expressed its readiness to assist Morocco in its rescue efforts, with pledges of support coming from countries such as Spain, France, and Israel. Even neighboring Algeria, which has had strained relations with Morocco in recent years, has opened its airspace to facilitate humanitarian flights to Morocco.
As Moroccans grapple with the aftermath of this disaster, the nation unites in solidarity, working tirelessly to rescue survivors and provide aid to those affected by this devastating earthquake.
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