Morocco earthquake: unprecedented devastation in High Atlas villages
The recent earthquake in Morocco has shaken the country to its core, leaving behind a scene of destruction and despair. It is not just the intensity of the earthquake, but its widespread impact that has left many people in shock. This article delves into its consequences, the sectors that suffered the brunt, and the global support it has received.
An earthquake like never before: The seriousness of the situation
Friday's seismic event in Morocco, as recorded by the US Geological Survey, is the most powerful in the North African country's history. With a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale, it sent shock waves beyond its epicenter into the Atlas mountain range. While the area 72 kilometers southwest of Marrakesh was hardest hit, tremors were felt as far away as Rabat, Casablanca, Essaouira and even Agadir. For many, it brought back horrific memories of the 1960s, when Agadir had to be rebuilt from the ashes after a devastating earthquake.
Marrakesh: A historical jewel under siege
Significant damage was seen in Marrakesh, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site and globally renowned for its vast medina. Draped in its distinctive ochre, the city witnessed the partial collapse of its iconic 12th century ramparts. This devastation spread a wave of panic among the residents. With their homes in danger, many people took refuge in the vast expanse of Jemaa al-Fnaa Square, hoping for safety.
The real tragedy: remote villages in the High Atlas
However, the harshest consequences were seen in the remote High Atlas region, particularly in Al-Hawz and Taroudant provinces. The quaint mud-brick villages of Tafeghaghte and Moulay Brahim are in ruins. To assess the damage, Tafeghaghte, which had a population of about 100, buried about 70 of its residents the following Saturday. These villages, already isolated due to their geographical location, had to face the wrath of nature, which increased their insecurity.
A grim toll: lives lost and lives changed
The magnitude of the earthquake can be gauged from the fact that it took the lives of more than 2,000 people. According to the latest data from the Moroccan Interior Ministry, an additional 2,059 people were injured in the earthquake, 1,404 of whom are in serious condition. Al-Hawz province alone reported 1,293 deaths, followed by Taroudant with at least 452 deaths. The tragedy also resulted in international casualties, with a French national being one of the victims.
A global effort: rescue operations in full swing
In view of the magnitude of the disaster, rescue work is going on. The Moroccan Red Crescent, along with the army, is leading the relief effort. The immediate focus is on reaching the most affected areas, many of which are challenging to reach due to mountainous terrain.
Caroline Holt, representing the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stressed the importance of the next few days, saying they would be "crucial in terms of saving lives". Because of this urgency Spain sent a team of 56 rescue workers, equipped with drilling machinery and accompanied by sniffer dogs. While other countries are ready to assist, they are waiting for an official invitation from Morocco. Countries including EU members, Britain, the United States, Turkey and Israel have already expressed their solidarity and willingness to help.
In response to the catastrophe, Morocco's King Mohammed VI has declared three days of national mourning, symbolizing the country's collective grief.
Looking ahead: Morocco's resilience
The extent of the damage is still being assessed, demonstrating Morocco's resilience. The widespread global support is a testament to the international community's confidence in the country's ability to rebuild and become stronger.