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Morocco earthquake: Over 2100 dead; survivors struggle for food, shelter

September 11, 2023

Survivors of Morocco’s most devastating earthquake in over six decades are facing a desperate battle for essential supplies like food, water, and shelter. The powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck late on September 8, resulting in a death toll that has already surpassed 2,100 people, with the potential for further increases as the search for missing individuals continues.

Many individuals have spent three nights exposed to the elements, as delivering aid to the hardest-hit villages in the remote and rugged High Atlas mountains has proven to be a significant challenge for relief workers. In these areas, numerous homes have been reduced to rubble.

The earthquake has also taken a toll on Morocco’s cultural heritage. Reports from local media have confirmed the collapse of a historically significant 12th-century mosque. Furthermore, parts of Marrakech’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, have sustained damage.

The impact of the earthquake is exacerbated by the fact that many homes in the affected region are constructed from materials such as mud bricks, timber, cement, and breeze blocks, which are more susceptible to damage during seismic events. This earthquake marks the deadliest in Morocco since 1960 when an estimated 12,000 lives were tragically lost.

Rescue efforts are currently underway, with Moroccan authorities and international teams tirelessly working to locate survivors. Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar, and the United States are among the countries that have dispatched search-and-rescue teams and resources to assist in the recovery efforts. In Hanoi, Vietnam, President Biden expressed, “We stand ready to provide any necessary assistance to the Moroccan people.”

The earthquake’s epicenter was situated 72 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a city renowned for its historical and architectural treasures. The Moroccan government has established a fund to aid those affected by the catastrophe and is distributing relief supplies including water, food, tents, and blankets.

The international community has also extended its hand in assistance, with countries such as Spain, the UK, the US, and France dispatching rescue teams. The World Health Organization reported that over 300,000 people have been impacted by the disaster.

In response to the tragedy, Morocco has declared three days of mourning, and King Mohammed VI has called for prayers in mosques throughout the country to honor the victims.

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