Rescue efforts underway, international aid pours in as earthquake in Morocco kills over 2,100

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalSep 11, 2023 | 15:22

Rescue efforts underway, international aid pours in as earthquake in Morocco kills over 2,100

Earthquake in Morocco has so far claimed the lives of 2,122 people. Photo: AP

The 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco on Friday, September 8, has tragically claimed the lives of 2,122 people and left 2,059 others injured, according to a report by the news agency AP.

Rescue efforts are in full swing, with foreign countries lending their assistance to expedite the operations. The death toll currently stands at more than 2,100, and it is expected to rise as authorities continue to recover bodies from the rubble of collapsed buildings, as reported by CNN.


Here's what's happening:

  • Spain, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have sent aid to support the rescue operations.
  • King Mohammed VI expressed his gratitude to these countries for their assistance, as announced by the state-run broadcaster Al Aoula on Sunday.
  • "The Moroccan authorities conducted a careful assessment of the needs in the field, recognizing that lack of coordination in such cases would be counterproductive. Therefore, at this particular stage, the Moroccan authorities have responded to the offers of assistance from our friendly nations, including Spain, Qatar, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates," quoted King Mohammed VI, as reported by CNN.
  • Spain confirmed that Morocco had requested their aid and dispatched a team of 56 Spanish rescue personnel to assist in the operations.
  • In mourning for the lives lost, King Mohammed VI has declared three days of national mourning and called upon mosques across the nation to hold funeral prayers for the deceased on Sunday.
Residents take their belongings after the earthquakes damaged houses and buildings on Friday (September 8). Photo: Reuters

The epicentre

  • The earthquake's epicentre was in a sparsely populated area of the High Atlas Mountains, specifically in the Ighil area, located 71 km (44 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, a popular tourist destination.
  • The regions with the most significant casualties reported include Al-Haouz, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua, and Taroudant.

Which province suffered the most damage?

  • Among the 2,122 fatalities, the highest number of casualties, 1,351, occurred in the Al-Haouz region, which had an estimated population of around 57,000 people according to the 2014 census.
  • Al-Haouz is primarily a rural region where the inhabitants predominantly speak a combination of Arabic and Tachelhit, Morocco's most common indigenous language. Nearly all the houses, constructed from clay and mud, were destroyed in the earthquake.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over 300,000 people have been affected in Marrakech and its surrounding areas.
People react during the funeral of two victims of the deadly earthquake, in Moulay Brahim, Morocco, September 10, 2023. Photo: Reuters

Who is providing rescue efforts?

  • Morocco's interior ministry has accepted international aid focused on search and rescue operations from Spain, Qatar, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • However, the government has reportedly declined offers of assistance from French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden.
  • Morocco has deployed ambulances, rescue teams, and soldiers to assist in the rescue efforts.
  • The Moroccan armed forces have also dispatched rescue teams to provide clean drinking water, food supplies, tents, and blankets to the victims.
  • Members of Morocco's national football team have generously donated blood to aid the earthquake victims.
  • Even Algeria, which severed diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021 due to tensions related to the Western Sahara conflict, has announced the opening of its airspace for humanitarian and medical flights.
A general view of damage following a powerful earthquake in Amizmiz, Morocco, September 9, 2023. Photo: REUTERS

Was this the worst earthquake in the region?

  • Since 1990, there have been nine earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or higher within 500 km (311 miles) of this event, none of which exceeded a magnitude of 6.
  • While the devastation on Friday was significant, it was not the worst in Morocco's history. Sixty years ago, a more powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 claimed the lives of 12,000 people along the country's western coast.
  • That earthquake prompted significant changes in construction practices in the country, but rural villages still struggle to afford infrastructure that can withstand such massive ground shaking.
  • The death toll from this earthquake is expected to rise as rescue operations continue.

Members of the Moroccan Parliament are scheduled to convene on Monday to establish a government fund for earthquake response at the request of King Mohammed VI.

Last updated: September 11, 2023 | 15:52
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