On Sunday, Moroccans mourn the victims of a devastating earthquake that has already claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people. Rescue teams are scrambling to find survivors who may be trapped under the rubble.
At least 2,012 people died in the strongest earthquake to hit the country so far. More than 2,059 people were injured, many of whom suffered critical injuries, according to the latest official figures.
Friday’s 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck 72 km southwest of the tourist destination of Marrakesh. Some villages in rural areas were completely destroyed.
“I lost everything,” said Lahcen, a resident of Moulay Brahim. His wife and four children are deceased.
Rescue workers pulled the bodies of Lahcen’s three daughters from the rubble of what was once their home. The bodies of his wife and son have not yet been found.
“I can’t do anything about it now. I just want to get away from the world and grieve.”
Soldiers and emergency services rushed to remote areas where victims were believed to be still trapped under the rubble.
Al-Haouz province, where the epicenter of the earthquake is located, reported the most deaths – a total of 1,293, followed by Taroudant with 452.
Fatema Satir, a resident of Marrakesh, told AFP that many residents are still sleeping in the street for fear that their houses may collapse.
“Look where these people sleep. There is no help for us. Our houses have been broken into. It’s chaos.”
Authorities announced three days of mourning.
Several countries, including Israel, France, Spain, Italy and the US, offered help.
Neighboring Algeria, which has tumultuous ties with Morocco, opened its airspace, which had been closed for two years, to ensure humanitarian aid and the injured could be airlifted.
The Red Cross warned that it could take years to repair the damage.
“It will not be a week or two, we are looking at a response that will last for months, if not years,” Hossam Elsharkawi, Red Cross director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. .
The town of Tafeghaghte, 60 km southwest of Marrakesh, was almost completely destroyed in the earthquake.
“Three of my grandchildren and their mother are dead,” said 72-year-old Omar Benhanna. “They are still under the rubble. They have been playing together recently.”
Residents buried around 70 victims in a nearby cemetery on Saturday.
The shaking was also felt in the coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca, Agadir and Essaouira.