Earthquake in Morocco The Spanish in Marrakech: "It was terrible, very distressing, the ground was moving, everything was moving...."

"It was around eleven thirty or so, I had just gone to bed

Earthquake in Morocco The Spanish in Marrakech: "It was terrible, very distressing, the ground was moving, everything was moving...."

"It was around eleven thirty or so, I had just gone to bed. I don't think I had fallen asleep, I felt the movement, the shaking and I understood at the moment that it was an earthquake. I got up and took shelter. I stood under the door lintel, because I know that in these cases you have to look for safe areas of the house, under a beam or something. It was terrible, very distressing, because the floor was moving, everything was moving, you could hear things falling. around the house, things that were breaking. At that moment you don't understand anything, but you know that it was a very strong earthquake. I don't know how many seconds it lasted, 20 or 30, I don't know, but they were distressing. As soon as it stopped, survival was active and the first thing I did was get dressed in the dark, because the power had gone out, I grabbed my cell phone, my keys and went out. I stepped on glass as I passed through the living room. Once on the stairs, I saw that the rest of the neighbors were also leaving to get dressed. sheltered in the street. We have spent much of the night in the street."

This is how Chelo García Manzano, head of studies at the Cervantes Institute in Marrakech, tells how she experienced the magnitude 7 earthquake that shook Morocco early this Saturday. Both she and the 15 people who work at the institution, she explains, are fine.

In his neighborhood, Guéliz, an area where mainly foreigners residing in the city live, there has been no major damage to buildings, he says. "From what we have seen in the videos that are circulating, we understand that it is in the Medina where there have been collapses of some homes. Guéliz is a residential neighborhood, with well-founded homes. I suspect that the collapses will have been in more popular neighborhoods, with houses worse built, and in the villages where the epicenter occurred, which was about 70 kilometers from Marrakech, between Marrakech and Agadir. They are mud houses that are not prepared to deal with this type of tremors," explains Chelo. Garcia Manzano.

Marrakech is one of the 12 provinces covered by the Spanish consulate in Casablanca, in which there are 4,797 Spaniards registered. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on Spaniards who are not registered and need help to contact that consulate.

Mayte, from Madrid, has been in Marrakech for 12 years and owns a hamman in the medina, the most affected area. Her business did not suffer damage, but many homes in the area did. "In the kasbah and throughout the Medina the houses are old and there is a lot of deterioration. Many houses have collapsed and there are people dead. The city is in chaos because part of the wall has fallen, part of the mosque has fallen. Not yet "There is an exact assessment of the damage with the dead and the same thing happens. They give figures as they find them, there is a lot of rubble, a lot of people who live alone...", Mayte says from her home in Marrakech.

"It was a few minutes past eleven, a lot of people were caught in bed. A case arose... the screams, the overwhelm of the people, crying children, people went out as best they could, barefoot, naked... And then You feel insecure and your body unstable, like when you travel by boat and the sea is choppy, when you go down you still have that feeling of dizziness... In my house there are many broken porcelain, the television... but thanks to God, the important thing is that on a physical level we are fine," adds Mayte, who opened her hammam this Monday. "There are some cancellations obviously because there are people who have become afraid, but the majority of people have come," she says.

Apart from the permanent residents, the earthquake has surprised thousands of Spanish tourists on vacation in the area.

Among them, a senior official from the Valencian Government and her group of friends. In total, fifty Valencians who had traveled to Marrakech to celebrate a wedding this weekend, including the general director of Tourism, Esther Labaig. "We don't feel insecure, but we do feel very worried," she tells this newspaper by phone, once the scare is over, while she remains confined to the hotel "for safety."

Even so, Labaig confesses the "immense luck" that she and the 50 people who, at the time of the earthquake, were celebrating the event in the garden of the hotel complex have had. "We were having dinner in the garden and, suddenly, everything started to move, so we quickly moved away from the building in case debris started to fall and we all gathered in a safe place," she says. In reality, the hotel in which this group of Spaniards is staying is on the outskirts of Marrakech and is newly built, as Labaig highlights. "Other older buildings have not held up, but we have experienced it from a privileged situation," she emphasizes. "We are the anecdote of a tragedy."

In fact, the hotel, from which these Spaniards have not moved, has not suffered any collapse beyond structural damage, such as broken glass and cracks. Of course, the wedding guests have had to be evicted from the wing where the wedding was taking place to be relocated to another space that has not suffered any type of damage. "The luck is that we are all together and we have not suffered personal injuries," insists the head of Tourism in the Valencian Government.

"We are being treated very well by the hotel staff and we are in contact with the Spanish Consulate," he adds. Now they are waiting to return to Spain, as planned, on a flight that is still scheduled for this Sunday. "We hope nothing else happens."

Among the Spanish tourists surprised by the earthquake is also Iris, a 19-year-old nursing student, who was traveling in a group of 10 friends from Granja de Rocamora y Cox (Alicante). She was in the Riad where they were staying when the earthquake occurred. "We were scared, but I'm better now," she said over the phone mid-Saturday morning to

"My friends were on the ground floor and I was on the first floor, in the bathroom. I heard a very loud noise and I thought it was a pipe or something like that. But after the loud noise everything started to shake, the walls, the ceiling, the floor... I ran away and I even fell on the stairs because I was going super fast. We tried to get out the door, but it was stuck and we started screaming and banging. In the end, my friend managed to open it and we went out to the street. There were people running, shouting, the birds flying very nervous. We slept on the street until eight or so," he recounts how he experienced the earthquake from Riyadh, where the group is waiting for their plane to depart. They have tickets to return to Spain this Saturday at 8:00 p.m. "We're going to see if we can eat something and after eating we'll want to go directly to the airport. We'll go early just in case," she says.

Iris and four of her friends lived it in the Riad, but the rest of the group was in the touristy Jemaa el Fna square. "We were playing a game of throwing a ring at some bottles and suddenly I seemed to see my legs moving in a zigzag from one side to the other. I thought: 'Let's see if it's the Metro.' And I immediately realized that There is no Metro there and it was an earthquake," says one of them, Manuel Marhuenda, a journalism student. "We were three girls and two boys, and one of the girls ran out of fear. Although we knew it was better to stay still because the square was a safe place, we all ran after her so as not to get separated. We got together and calmed down, "When the earthquake happened, I saw dust coming out of the buildings, smoke was also coming out of the main mosque... The square was filled with people coming out of the houses, ambulances, the police, some construction vehicles were arriving. ... We spent about five hours there because they told us that there could be an aftershock. There were a lot of Spaniards, tourists, crowded together sleeping together. At that moment we were like in shock. As the hours have passed, we have realized what we have experienced."