Last Friday night, Morocco was struck by one of the deadliest earthquakes since the Agadir disaster in 1960. Measuring 6.8 in magnitude, the tremor has resulted in over 2000 fatalities, according to the country`s Interior Ministry. More than 1,400 individuals have sustained critical injuries, and the most severe casualties are concentrated in provinces south of Marrakesh.
The earthquake, which hit Marrakesh – a city renowned for its World Heritage Site status and popularity among tourists – caused substantial destruction. There are reports of entire villages and mountainous regions being levelled by the tremors. BBC correspondent Nick Beake reported from one such village where an elderly woman mourned the loss of 18 lives in a single location.
The epicentre was said to have been in the High Atlas Mountains, around 71 kilometres southwest of Marrakesh. However, the tremors were felt in the capital Rabat, which is 350 kilometres away.
According to the Interior Ministry, Al Haouz province has recorded the highest death toll, followed by Taroudant province, and Marrakesh has recorded the lowest death toll.
King Mohammed VI declared three days of national mourning and swiftly convened an emergency meeting with officials to coordinate rescue efforts and aid. Public buildings in the country will fly their flags at half-mast for the next three days, as declared by the royal palace. The king has also directed the armed forces to assist rescue teams, and Moroccan nationals are donating blood to aid the national effort.
The United Nations, France, and Turkey have extended a helping hand to the Moroccan Government in its rescue efforts. Most notably, Algeria, which has had strained relations with Morocco in recent years has opened its airspace to assist Morocco. Leaders of major world powers, including US, President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have also expressed their readiness to aid in alleviating the suffering caused by this earthquake.
While many Moroccans are grappling with the loss of loved ones and the destruction of their homes, families are still trapped under the rubble as rescue operations continue.
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