Already 2,800 dead after earthquake in Morocco: hope is dwindling
It’s a race against time: After the severe earthquake in Morocco, the emergency services are trying to get to mountain villages that are difficult to access. Hundreds of people are still missing.
Half a week after the severe earthquake in Morocco’s hope for survivors is dwindling. The search for hundreds of missing people continues in hard-to-reach areas. For the emergency services, it’s a race against time: experts give a guideline of 72 hours during which a person can survive at most without water.
According to the government, at least 2,862 deaths were counted by evening and at least 2,562 other people were injured.
The magnitude 6.8 earthquake – the worst in Morocco in decades – struck late Friday evening. The epicenter was southwest of Marrakech. Since then, the North African country has been hit by several aftershocks.
Military helicopters drop aid packages
Soldiers try to advance into remote mountain villages with the support of foreign aid teams. Bulldozers have to be used to clear roads of debris in the rugged terrain so that ambulances can get through after landslides.
The authorities have now set up field hospitals near the epicenter to care for the injured, Justice Minister Abdel Latif Wehbe told the Arabic television channel Al-Arabiya on Monday. The exact number of deaths and damages cannot be clarified at the moment.
On Monday, military helicopters dropped aid packages over areas that were difficult to access. The European Union provided one million euros for humanitarian aid. The money should help cover the most urgent needs of those most affected. The Commission is also in contact with EU states to mobilize emergency teams if Morocco requests it, it said.
France is supporting the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country with five million euros.
German help has not yet been requested
Germany again offered help to Morocco. So far, however, the government in Rabat has shown no interest in this. However, Morocco thanked us for the offer, said a spokesman for the Foreign Office. When asked whether the decision not to provide German support could possibly have political reasons, he replied: “I think political reasons can be ruled out in our case.” Diplomatic relations with Morocco are good.
The dispute over Western Sahara plunged German-Moroccan relations into a crisis in 2021. At the height of the crisis, Morocco withdrew its ambassador from Berlin for several months. In the summer of 2022, the two states became closer again.
In May, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office brought charges against a Moroccan before the State Security Senate of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court for alleged secret service activity. He is accused of spying on supporters of a Moroccan protest movement.
Britain is in Morocco with 60 search and rescue experts and equipment as well as four search dogs to support the Moroccan-led operations, as British Ambassador Simon Martin announced on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). A special unit of the Spanish military with search dogs is also involved in the rescue operations.
Although other countries, including Germany, also offered help, Morocco initially only accepted support from four countries. The Interior Ministry said late on Sunday evening that the authorities had carried out a precise assessment of the needs on site. It was taken into account that a lack of coordination in such situations would lead to adverse results. Therefore, they initially “responded to the offers of support from the friendly countries of Spain, Qatar, Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates,” the statement said.
The aid organization Care said that in addition to humanitarian aid, the population now primarily needed psychological support. “In addition to the enormous physical devastation, the emotional damage caused by the horror experienced and the fear endured is very serious,” said Hlima Razkaoui, secretary general of Care Morocco, in a report published by the organization on Monday.
The government in Morocco announced a special fund for the needy population. This was intended, among other things, to cover costs for securing damaged houses, the news website “Hespress” reported, citing a government spokesman. There was initially no information on the amount of the aid fund.