The death toll from Friday’s earthquake in Morocco is rising. Nearly 2,500 people have died, the local Interior Ministry said on Monday. Reaching the most affected, mountainous areas is hindered by the boulders lying on the winding roads. The army announced the dispatch of helicopters. Teams from several other countries are participating in the search and rescue operation.
Rescue efforts are underway in Morocco after the deadliest earthquake in more than six decades struck the north of the country late on Friday. The death toll reached 2,497 and 2,476 people were injured, the Moroccan interior ministry said on Monday. The previous balance gave the number of 2,122 dead and the same number of wounded.
“We’re mostly dealing with trauma victims, people suffering from serious injuries after buildings collapsed on them. We treat minor injuries in makeshift clinics here, but critical cases are sent to the city, said Dr. Abdullah Qawi, one of the Casablanca volunteer doctors helping the injured in the village of Talat N’Yaaqoub, 90 kilometers south of Marrakech.
The Moroccan government mobilized more than 1,000 doctors and 1,500 nurses to help with the rescue operation. “It is difficult for us to estimate the number of people stuck under the rubble, but I assure you that the numbers will stabilize soon, especially the injured, patients and dead,” said government spokesman Mustapha Baitas.
The epicenter of the magnitude 6.8 quake was 72 km southwest of Marrakesh, which severely affected the oldest district. The population in the region of the High Atlas Mountains was most affected by the catastrophe. Getting to this area is very difficult.
“The bodies lie in the open air, covered with blankets”
Al-Jazeera reported that the number of dead and injured among people living in remote, mountainous areas is rising sharply. “The railway line does not go further … than Marrakech itself, winding through mountain roads that rescuers have difficulty traversing because of boulders along the route,” correspondent Jonah Hull reported.
He added that “the bodies (of the victims – ed.) lie in the open air, covered with blankets. In some cases, during funerals, mass graves are dug up and, of course, the necessary supplies run out.”
“It’s a race against time to find people trapped under the rubble,” commented Hashem Ahelbarra, another station correspondent.
The army sends the army
On Monday, it was reported that military helicopters were sent to help the wounded. The army is trying to deliver help to the mountainous regions of Morocco. Volunteers are also trying to get there.
Teams from Spain, Great Britain and Qatar are also participating in the ongoing search and rescue operation. Due to diplomatic tensions, Morocco is blocking aid from France in mitigating the effects of the disaster, French media reported on Monday. Chinese state media reported that the PRC would donate $200,000 in humanitarian aid to the Moroccan Red Crescent. United Nations aid teams have already arrived in Morocco.
– It is obvious that reaching the affected areas will be a challenge, especially since the most damaged areas are mountain areas. (…) We are ready to help and will start work as soon as possible, but first we need to assess the damage – commented UN representative Farhan Haq.
There is a three-day national mourning period announced by King Mohhamed VI in Morocco. The king appealed for prayers for the dead in mosques across the country.
It was the deadliest earthquake in Morocco since 1960, according to the US Geological Survey, killing at least 12,000 people. people. According to the services, it was also the strongest quake ever recorded in the country.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA