Morocco was struck by a catastrophic 6.8-magnitude earthquake that has left more than 2,400 people dead and thousands injured, triggering a global humanitarian response.
The earthquake’s epicenter was located in the High Atlas mountains, approximately 45 miles southwest of Marrakech, marking it as the most powerful quake to hit the country in 120 years.
Reports indicate that many of the casualties are concentrated in remote areas south of Marrakech, with one town feared to have recorded up to 2,000 deaths alone. As of the latest update on Monday, the official death toll stood at 2,497, with at least 2,059 individuals injured, including 1,404 severely hurt.
In response to this crisis, humanitarian organizations like Convoy of Hope and Operation Rescue are mobilizing to provide vital assistance to the affected regions. Convoy of Hope has announced its commitment to delivering essential resources, including food, water, hygiene supplies, shelter, blankets, and generators, to survivors. They anticipate that Moroccans will face numerous challenges in the coming weeks and months, especially as the loss of consistent electricity, clean water, and shelter compounds the already dire situation.
The death toll is more than 2,100 and this number is expected to climb. Search-and-rescue efforts continue as many are still buried underneath the rubble. More than 8 million people live in the affected areas. The greatest needs are food, water, hygiene supplies, shelter,… pic.twitter.com/BU7YCgORdw
— Convoy of Hope (@ConvoyofHope) September 10, 2023
Operation Blessing is also actively deploying its International Disaster Relief team to Morocco to participate in relief efforts following this devastating earthquake. The team will distribute relief supplies, such as solar-powered lights and water filtration equipment, and offer immediate aid to those in need.
Several international rescue teams, including those from Spain, Britain, France, and Turkey, have pledged their support, alongside the United Nations. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has engaged with Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, to discuss how the United States can best contribute to Morocco’s humanitarian response.
Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse, emphasized the power of prayer in aiding Morocco’s recovery, urging Christians to pray for the people of Morocco and their first responders.
Caroline Holt, the global operations director for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, pointed out that the true extent of the disaster may not become clear for several days due to the earthquake’s impact on infrastructure.
The earthquake has also taken a toll on Morocco’s education system, with the Ministry of Education reporting the deaths of seven teachers and injuries to 39 others. Around 530 schools have been damaged, primarily in the regions of Al Haouz, Chichaoua, and Taroudant, leading to the suspension of schooling in the most affected areas.
In response to this tragedy, Morocco has declared three days of national mourning, with the national flag flying at half-mast throughout the country. The national football team canceled an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Liberia, with players and staff donating blood instead.
Rescue operations are challenged by the remote and mountainous terrain, with blocked roads hindering access. In the village of Amizmiz, rescue workers are painstakingly searching for survivors amidst the rubble, facing immense challenges.
In Marrakesh, residents and tourists are grappling with a tense atmosphere and fears of aftershocks. Buildings have crumbled, forcing people to spend the night in the streets.
Morocco, a nation experiencing a resurgence in international tourism, with approximately 6.5 million visitors in the first six months of the year, has seen its heritage sites severely affected. The historic Medina of Marrakesh, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has witnessed many low-rise buildings collapsing.
Authorities are working tirelessly to clear roads for ambulances and aid trucks, while the military has deployed aircraft, helicopters, and drones to assist in rescue and relief efforts.