June 10, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Morocco Disaster; 2,497 confirmed dead, 2,476 injured as rescuers race to find survivors

Rescuers in Morocco are racing against the clock to find survivors in the rubble and reach isolated communities after Friday’s powerful earthquake.
It is the worst such disaster in that country in the last more than 60 years: at least 2,497 people are confirmed dead and 2,476 injured, according to state media.
Authorities warn the death toll is still expected to rise, after the “strongest earthquake” to hit the nation’s center in more than a century, and the worst destruction has been in isolated mountain areas, which are difficult to access.
Residents have described whole villages suffering damage and rescuers unable to retrieve bodies from the rubble.

The epicenter was not far from the popular tourist and economic hub Marrakech. Many residents slept on the streets, too afraid to return to their homes, and historic sites have been damaged.
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI declared three days of mourning and ordered mosques nationwide to hold funeral prayers on Sunday.
24 doctors, 48 nurses in 30-bed camp hospital near epicenter of quake
The Moroccan military has built a huge tent camp and a field hospital on the edge of the town of Asni, near the epicenter of the earthquake that struck late on Friday.
Hospital head Col. Youssef Qamouss told CNN he has 24 doctors and 48 nurses on site, but added the staff and its capacity — that currently stands at 30 beds — can be expanded.

The makeshift field hospital is in the town of Asni, southwest Morocco, which is being used to treat survivors of the earthquake.
Qamouss and his team are used to working in disaster zones. They’ve been deployed to Jordan and the Ivory Coast in the past, helping with crises there.
“We start with a triage to determine the needs of the patients, then send them to specialists,” he said.
The hospital is formed of 16 large tents arranged in a horse shoe formation, each with a department sign. There is urgent care, ophthalmology, surgical tent, pediatrics and even a radiology department.
“Most common injuries are burns, fractures, cuts, injuries to the face,” Qamouss said.
The pharmacy tent was particularly busy in the first hours of the hospital’s operation, with many people trying to get hold of their regular medicines, which might have been lost in the earthquake, including blood pressure pills, insulin and others.
Deadliest quake in more than 60 yrs
Friday’s disaster is the deadliest quake to hit Morocco in more than 60 years, according to EM-DAT, an international disaster database. It is also the strongest in magnitude on its land territory in more than a century.

While casualties are still being updated, it has already become the third deadliest earthquake in North Africa since at least 1900, EM-DAT data shows.
In 1960, a 5.8 magnitude quake in Morocco with an epicenter in Adagir led to at least 12,000 deaths and 25,000 injuries. And in 1980, a 7.1 magnitude ground movement in Algeria followed by a tsunami caused more than 2,600 deaths and huge damage.
Trucks take aid to remote villages
Villagers say they “have nothing left” as volunteers privately deliver aid from across Morocco
The main thoroughfare through the southwest part of the Atlas Mountains was full of traffic on Monday morning, as heavy machinery and trucks transported aid to the areas most impacted by the earthquake.
Much of the help directed to these areas is privately organized by small groups of volunteers from across the country.
Abdelali Amzil, 34, and his neighbours loaded a van with food and water and drove it to the mountains from the coastal city of Casablanca, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) away.
They took some of the supplies to a village in Ouirgane that was completely destroyed by the quake.
Surviving locals in self-help gestures
Half the residents of the village are now camping out in a little grove just off the main road. About 300 people are staying there, according to Hmed Elmouden, one of the locals, a CNN correspondent on site reported.

Elmouden’s house is now just a pile of rubble and he and his family are grieving his sister-in-law, who was one of the 30 people killed in that village.
Many people have died in Ouirgane, so everyone here knows someone who was killed, the correspondent said. “The families left behind are huddled together sharing food and water, grieving as a community.”
“We have nothing left, the house is completely gone,” Elmouden told CNN. “I have no idea what will happen next. Rebuilding takes a long time, look at Turkey,” he said.
Countries offer help, issue travel alerts
The German foreign office has told travelers to avoid mountainous regions in Morocco, where the epicenter of the devastating earthquake was located in the North African country on Friday.
Travel advice, which is regularly given after such events, urged travelers to avoid mountainous regions around the towns of Imlil, Ouirgane and Asni.
“The epicenter was located about 60km south of Marrakech in the Atlas Mountains. Infrastructure (telephone, Internet, airports) is largely back in operation outside the narrower damage area at the epicentre, especially in the larger cities of Essaouira, Agadir, Marrakech and Ouarzazate,” the foreign office said.
“Older buildings in the historic city centers (Medina) have been severely damaged in isolated cases and are uninhabitable; however, buildings and hotels of newer construction have remained largely undamaged.”
Meanwhile, four telecom companies in France are making calls and texts to Morocco free, the French minister responsible for digital affairs said Monday.
Orange, Free and Bouygues have already made these communications free, and SFR will follow at midnight local time Monday, said Jean-Noël Barrot on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
About 1.5 million Moroccans or those with roots in the North African country live in France and more than 50,000 French people live in Morocco, CNN’s affiliate BFMTV reports.
Assessing the people’s needs
King Mohammed VI has thanked Spain, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates for sending aid following the earthquake, state-run broadcaster Al Aoula said Sunday.
“The Moroccan authorities conducted a careful assessment of the needs in the field, taking into account that a lack of coordination in such cases would be counterproductive,” the king said, according to an interior ministry statement posted by state broadcaster 2M.
“On these bases, Moroccan authorities responded, at this particular stage, to the offers of support made by friendly countries Spain, Qatar, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates (UÀE), which suggested mobilizing a group of search and rescue teams,” he continued.
“Moreover, with the progress of interventions, the assessment of potential needs may develop, which may lead to going back to offers of support from other friendly countries, according to the needs of each stage separately.”

While Spain said Sunday that Morocco had officially requested its aid — and that a plane of 56 Spanish rescue personnel had since arrived to help — it was not initially clear how many of the other international aid offers the Moroccan government has accepted.
The UN said on Friday that it had offered assistance on search and rescue, humanitarian and medical needs, but an official said at the time that Morocco was “deploying its own answer to the earthquake.”