Morocco faces a critical race against time to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble following Friday’s devastating earthquake. Emergency services are grappling with the challenge of reaching remote areas to provide assistance.
Villagers are tirelessly digging with their hands and shovels in a desperate attempt to find survivors, while rescue teams struggle to bring in heavy machinery. Tragically, some of these tools may soon be required to prepare graves for the thousands of lives lost in this quake.
One local resident shared, “People have lost everything. They are hungry, children are thirsty, and they are in dire need of help.”
The earthquake, the deadliest in Morocco in six decades, struck beneath a cluster of isolated mountain villages south of Marrakesh. The government has reported a staggering death toll of at least 2,122 people, with over 2,421 others injured, many of them in critical condition.
The quake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, resulted in collapsed homes, blocked roads, and swaying buildings as far as the northern coast of the country. Even Marrakesh’s historic city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, suffered damage.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco declared a three-day period of national mourning as the nation grapples with the aftermath of this disaster. Civil protection units have been mobilized to replenish supplies of blood, water, food, tents, and blankets, but they admit that some of the worst-hit areas are so remote that reaching them immediately after the quake was impossible—critical hours for the injured.
Rocks that fell during the earthquake have further obstructed the already poorly maintained roads leading to the High Atlas mountains, where many of the hardest-hit regions are located.
In the small town of Amizmiz, about 34 miles south of Marrakesh, numerous buildings have been reduced to rubble. The local hospital, deemed unsafe, now treats patients in tents on its grounds. Overwhelmed staff has had to deal with around 100 bodies brought in on Saturday.
The streets beyond the hospital are littered with debris from destroyed buildings, heavy traffic, and people who have lost everything. Tents have been set up alongside roads to accommodate those who have lost their homes, but not everyone has access to them.
In a nearby village, makeshift graves marked by sticks and stones have been prepared for some of the 100 residents who lost their lives. Locals have been left to find and bury the deceased without official support.
International aid efforts are gaining momentum, with the UK, Spain, Qatar, and France offering assistance. The US and Turkey are also prepared to provide aid upon request.
Caroline Holt from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies emphasized the importance of the next few days for finding survivors trapped in the wreckage.
Meanwhile, in the nearly obliterated village of Tafeghaghte, southwest of Marrakesh, grieving relatives have begun burying dozens of victims. One resident shared the heartbreaking loss of three grandchildren and their mother.
In Agadir city, along the southern Atlantic coast, residents like Hakima have described fleeing their villages after losing loved ones and surviving the devastating shocks. While neighbors have helped rescue some survivors from the rubble, aid has yet to reach many affected settlements.
Hakima, in despair, pleaded, “My family has lost everything. They have nothing left. People are starving. Children just want water. They need help.”