Morocco quake: Death toll approaches 3,000, even as international aid and assistance flow in

Three days after the country's worst earthquake, the death toll continues to mount as rescue crews continue the search for survivors in the rubble

Rescuers warn about the traditional mud brick houses ubiquitous in the Atlas Mountains reducing the chances of finding survivors (photo: Piero Cruciatti/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Rescuers warn about the traditional mud brick houses ubiquitous in the Atlas Mountains reducing the chances of finding survivors (photo: Piero Cruciatti/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The death toll in the 6.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Morocco rose to 2,681, with additional 2,501 people injured, Morocco's interior ministry said, updating the previous toll of 2,497.

Three days after the powerful earthquake, crews are still searching for survivors in the rubble as rescuers warn about the traditional mud brick houses ubiquitous in the Atlas Mountains reducing the chances of finding survivors.

Witnesses told the German Press Agency that rescue efforts were proceeding at a "steady but slow" pace.

With the rescue operations underway and the death toll expected to mount, the "absolute focus and priority" must be finding people that are still alive under the rubble, a senior Red Cross official told DW.

"Because that window unfortunately will start to close in the coming days," Caroline Holt, director of disaster, climate and crises at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, said.

"The priority has to be to reach people wherever we possibly can, and there's a huge awareness that people are buried. It's purely a matter of access." 

While the Moroccan army has cleared routes to some remote mountain villages, "there are still many places that we as an aid community have not managed to reach yet," Holt added. "The logistical challenges of reaching those mountain villages shouldn't be underestimated."

An additional challenge is caring for the hundreds of people wounded in the quake.

"We now know that people are spending their third day outside — those that have survived," she said. "There are many of them that have some very severe injuries — severe head injuries, for instance. But we also know that broken bones are common in this situation." 


As part of its response Morocco has deployed the army and has said it is reinforcing search-and-rescue teams, providing drinking water and distributing food, tents and blankets. Search teams from Spain, Britain and Qatar have also joined efforts to find survivors.

Britain sent 60 search-and-rescue experts, along with equipment and four search dogs to support the Moroccan-led operations, British ambassador Simon Martin said in a post published early Monday, 11 September, on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

A special Spanish military unit with 56 soldiers and four search dogs also arrived in Morocco. They have been assigned to the Talat N'Yaaqoub area, 25 km from the epicenter, the Spanish defense ministry said on X.

Several countries, including Germany, have pledged to help Morocco in the wake of the earthquake, which struck south of Marrakech.

Morocco also received monetary aid from nations worldwide, including the European Union, which is set to provide $1.07 million to support relief efforts in areas affected by the earthquake, the European Commission announced.

"As the EU stands in solidarity with the Moroccan people, we are releasing funding of €1 million to help meet the most urgent needs of the population most affected," EU crisis commissioner Janez Lenarcic said in a statement.

"The EU remains ready to assist Morocco in any way necessary during this difficult period," he added.


Meanwhile, Chinese state media reported that the Red Cross Society of China will give the Moroccan Red Crescent $200,000 for emergency humanitarian assistance.

The French government has pledged $5.4 million to aid organisations operating in Morocco's earthquake disaster zone, foreign minister Catherine Colonna told the BFM broadcaster.

But while Morocco accepted official aid from other nations, it did not accept France's aid. Relations between France and Morocco are strained, notably over the issue of Western Sahara, which Morocco wants France to recognise as Moroccan.

With inputs from DW

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