Morocco quake toll likely to rise

A man looks on as residents navigate through the rubble in the earthquake-damaged old city of Marrakesh on September 9, 2023. A powerful earthquake that shook Morocco late September 8 killed more than 600 people, interior ministry figures showed, sending terrified residents fleeing their homes in the middle of the night. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)


Many survivors of Morocco’s most powerful earthquake in over a century were struggling in makeshift shelters on Tuesday after a fourth night outside, with rescuers yet to reach remote mountain villages which suffered some of the worst devastation.
The death toll from the 6.8 magnitude quake that struck in the High Atlas Mountains late on Friday stood at 2,862, with 2,562 people injured, but those figures looked likely to rise. Rescuers from Spain, Britain and Qatar were helping Morocco’s search teams, while Italy, Belgium, France and Germany said their offers of assistance had yet to be approved. Hopes of finding survivors under the rubble were fading, not least because many of the traditional mud brick houses that are common in the mountain villages crumbled to earthen rubble without leaving air pockets. With the worst-hit area located in rugged, isolated terrain, the picture on Tuesday was patchy, with some organized tent camps being set up and supplies being airlifted in, while in other locations no aid at all had arrived due to roads being blocked by rocks and earth dislodged by the quake. Some survivors had camped out in the open with hastily packed bundles along the Tizi n’Test road, which connects remote valleys to Marrakech, after fleeing their destroyed villages.

“The authorities are focusing on the bigger communities and not the remote villages that are worst affected,” said Hamid Ait Bouyali, 40, waiting on the roadside. “There are some villages that still have the dead buried under the rubble.”