Picture: for illustration purposes

Catastrophic 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake Devastates Morocco's High Atlas Mountains

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

A devastating 6.8-magnitude earthquake in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco has claimed the lives of more than 2,800 people, making it the nation's deadliest quake in over a century. Villages lie in ruins, with thousands homeless, spending their fourth consecutive night in the open.

On Monday, search teams from Spain, Britain and Qatar converged on the disaster-stricken region to augment Moroccan rescue efforts. The quake, which originated southwest of Marrakesh, had a catastrophic impact on the traditional mud brick houses widespread in the region.

For the isolated, hard-hit areas of the quake zone, no figures for missing persons have been released due to their inaccessibility. Villages like Tinmel have been almost erased, leaving their populations homeless and distressed.

A harrowing account of the quake's destructive force was shared by Mouhamad Elhasan who lost his son trapped under a collapsing neighbor' roof. Throughout the disaster-struck region, residents have been pulling survivors from the wreckage using nothing but their bare hands.

Footage from the isolated village of Imi N'Tala, showed the heartrending scene of rescuers and dogs scampering over piles of rubble in desperate search of survivors. “The level of destruction is ... absolute," remarked Spanish rescuer Antonio Nogales.

The shockwaves reached Marrakesh damaging historical buildings but spared more modern structures, including a site near the airport set to host IMF and World Bank meetings next month. The Moroccan government is eager for the meetings to proceed as planned, as over 10,000 participants are expected.

By Monday night, tent camps appeared in some locations as the focus shifted to providing adequate shelter, with the army distributing food, water, and blankets. The road to Marrakesh was filled with heavy vehicles and volunteers ferrying relief supplies to the hardest-hit villages.

International aid has been crucial in dealing with this national crisis with Spain, Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Algeria providing support, offering search-and-rescue specialists with sniffer dogs, and arranging for the transport of rescue personnel and aid.

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