A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the rugged terrain of the Atlas Mountains, south of Marrakech, at approximately 23.00 on Friday, leaving a trail of destruction and tragedy in its wake. As the nation mourns, the death toll continues to climb, with at least 1000 people confirmed dead and 672 injured, including 205 in critical condition. Experts warn that these numbers are likely to rise further as rescuers reach isolated mountain villages.
This catastrophic event stands as the deadliest earthquake to hit Morocco since 2004, and there are growing fears that the final death toll could potentially reach into the thousands. The epicenter’s remote location has posed significant challenges for search and rescue teams, who are racing against time to reach those in need.
In the historic city of Marrakech, renowned for its vibrant culture and tourism, buildings and vehicles have been destroyed or badly damaged. Tourists and locals alike have rallied to donate blood to support those hospitalised. The resilience and unity of the Moroccan people in the face of adversity have been evident throughout the crisis.
Multiple nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have extended offers of aid to Morocco. However, the Moroccan government has, for now, expressed that foreign assistance is not required. Meanwhile, British holidaymakers in the region have been advised to contact their airlines for further guidance.
Local authorities have deployed a significant presence of police, paramedics, and military personnel to aid in search and rescue efforts. The international community closely monitors developments in Morocco as the nation grapples with this disaster.
In a significant gesture of solidarity, Algeria, which severed diplomatic relations with Morocco in 2021 due to historical tensions, has offered to open its airspace for humanitarian and medical flights to and from Morocco. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stated earlier this year that relations between the two nations had reached a “point of no return.” Nevertheless, Algeria stands ready to provide humanitarian aid and leverage its resources to assist Morocco if requested.
As the rescue and recovery operations continue, the focus remains on saving lives, providing aid to those affected, and rebuilding the affected regions.