Earthquake in Morocco: research continues, but hopes are fading

Volunteers and rescuers remain mobilized on Tuesday in Morocco

Earthquake in Morocco: research continues, but hopes are fading

Volunteers and rescuers remain mobilized on Tuesday in Morocco. Even as hopes fade more than 72 hours after the earthquake that killed nearly 2,900 people, the search continues for possible survivors. The epicenter of the earthquake which left 2,562 injured, according to a latest report Monday evening, is located in a mountainous area of ​​the High Atlas, where landslides have made access to the affected villages difficult.

Moroccan rescuers, supported by foreign teams, are trying to speed up searches to find possible survivors and provide shelter to hundreds of families who have lost their homes. On Tuesday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a fundraising appeal for around €100 million to support relief operations.

In some isolated areas, residents say they are left to their own devices. In the village of Imoulas, perched in the High Atlas, they seem lost amid the rubble of their houses. “We feel completely abandoned here, no one has come to help us. Our houses have collapsed and we have nowhere to go. Where are all these poor people going to live? » laments Khadija, a resident of this difficult-to-access village, hiding her face with her veil.

“The state didn’t come, we didn’t see anyone. After the earthquake, they came to count the number of victims. Since then, not a single one of them remains. No civil protection, no assistance force. No one is there with us,” says Mouhamed Aitlkyd, in the middle of the rubble. To deliver food to survivors of the earthquake in certain small landlocked towns, helicopters are flying back and forth, AFP journalists noted. The head of the Moroccan government, Aziz Akhannouch, chaired a meeting on Monday devoted in particular to the reconstruction of destroyed housing in the disaster areas.

“Citizens who lost their homes will receive compensation. […] A clear offer will be announced soon,” he said. According to him, solutions are currently being studied for homeless people. In the meantime, the villages closest to the epicenter of the earthquake still remain inaccessible due to landslides.

The Moroccan army has set up field hospitals to treat the wounded in landlocked areas, such as in the village of Asni, in the disaster-stricken province of Al-Haouz, just over an hour from Marrakech. More than 300 patients have already been admitted there, said doctor Colonel Youssef Qamouss. “We assess the severity, so serious patients we send them to Marrakech. We also have a radiology unit, a laboratory and a pharmacy,” he told AFP. On Sunday evening, Morocco announced that it had accepted offers from four countries to send search and rescue teams: Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

According to AFP correspondents, Spanish rescuers were present on Monday in two towns hit by the earthquake south of Marrakech, Talat Nyaqoub and Amizmiz. “The big difficulty is in remote and difficult to access areas like here, but the injured are airlifted,” Spanish team leader Annika Coll told AFP. “It's difficult to say whether the chances of finding survivors are diminishing because, for example, in Turkey (hit by a very strong earthquake in February), we managed to find a woman alive after six and a half days. There is always hope,” she added. “It is also important to find the dead bodies because families need to know and grieve. »

The earthquake reached magnitude 7, according to the Moroccan Center for Scientific and Technical Research (6.8, according to the American Seismological Service). It is the most powerful to have ever been measured in Morocco. The earthquake is the deadliest in the kingdom since the one that destroyed Agadir, on the west coast of the country, on February 29, 1960: between 12,000 and 15,000 people, or a third of the city's population, perished.