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Death Toll In Morocco Earthquake Exceeds 1,000

Rescuers have continued to dig through rubble for survivors in collapsed houses in remote mountain villages of Morocco today Saturday, following the country’s deadliest earthquake in 60 years, which has claimed over 1,000 lives.

The quake which struck in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains late on Friday night damaged historic buildings in Marrakech – the nearest city to the epicentre – while the most of the fatalities were reported in mountainous areas to the south.

The Interior Ministry said 1,037 people had been killed and another 672 injured by the quake, gauged by the U.S. Geological Survey at a magnitude of 6.8 with an epicentre some 72 km (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech.

In the village of Amizmiz near the epicentre rescue workers picked through rubble with their bare hands. Fallen masonry filled narrow streets. Outside a hospital, around 10 bodies lay covered in blankets as grieving relatives stood nearby.

“When I felt the earth shaking beneath my feet and the house leaning, I rushed to get my kids out. But my neighbours couldn’t,” said Mohamed Azaw. “Unfortunately no one was found alive in that family. The father and son were found dead and they are still looking for the mother and the daughter.”

Rescuers stood atop the pancaked floors of one building in Amizmiz, bits of carpet and furniture protruding from the rubble. A long queue formed outside the only open shop as people sought supplies. Underlining the challenges facing rescuers, fallen boulders blocked a road from Amizmiz to a nearby village.

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The quake, which hit at around 11 p.m. (2200 GMT), affected a sweep of the High Atlas mountain range. Tremors were felt as far away as Huelva and Jaen in Andalusia in southern Spain.

Street camera footage in Marrakech showed the moment the earth began to shake, as men suddenly looked around and jumped up, and others ran for shelter into an alleyway and then fled as dust and debris tumbled around them.

In Marrakech, where 13 people were confirmed dead, residents spent the night in the open, afraid to go home.

In the heart of its old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, a mosque minaret had fallen in Jemaa al-Fna Square.

Injured people filtered into Marrakech from the surrounding areas seeking treatment.

State television footage from the Moulay Ibrahim area some 40 km (25 miles) south of Marrakech showed dozens of houses collapsed at the foothills of a mountain, and residents digging graves as groups of women stood in the street.

Montasir Itri, a resident of the village of Asni near the epicentre, said most houses there were damaged.

“Our neighbours are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village,” he said.

In Marrakech, where rubble had tumbled into the streets, residents described desperate scenes as people fled for safety.

Reuters

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