Morocco earthquake: Struggle for space to bury dead amid warning aftershocks could last ‘months’

Morocco earthquake: Struggle for space to bury dead amid warning aftershocks could last ‘months’

A powerful earthquake measuring 6.8 magnitude struck central Morocco on Friday night, killing at least 632 people and injuring more than 300, according to the latest official figures. The quake was the strongest ever recorded in the country and was felt from Rabat to Marrakesh, sending people rushing into the streets in panic.

The epicenter of the quake was in the High Atlas Mountains, about 71 km (44 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, at a relatively shallow depth of 10 km (6 miles), according to the US Geological Survey. The quake triggered landslides and damaged roads, bridges, power lines and water pipes, hampering the rescue efforts.

Morocco earthquake: Struggle for space to bury dead amid warning aftershocks could last ‘months’
Morocco earthquake: Struggle for space to bury dead amid warning aftershocks could last ‘months’

Many of the deaths and injuries were reported in hard-to-reach rural areas, where most of the houses are made of mud and clay and collapsed under the tremors. Some villages were completely wiped out by the quake, leaving survivors homeless and in need of food, water and medical care.

Rescue workers race against time

Rescue workers from Morocco and other countries have been working around the clock to search for survivors under the rubble, using sniffer dogs, drones and heavy machinery. However, they face a narrowing window of opportunity as the chances of finding anyone alive diminish with time.

The Moroccan government has declared a state of emergency and mobilized all its resources to cope with the disaster. King Mohammed VI visited some of the affected areas on Saturday and expressed his condolences to the victims and their families. He also ordered an investigation into the causes and consequences of the quake and vowed to provide assistance and compensation to those affected.

The international community has also expressed its solidarity and support to Morocco and offered humanitarian aid and technical assistance. The United Nations, the European Union, the United States, France, Spain, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and other countries have sent teams of experts, medical staff, equipment and relief supplies to help with the relief efforts.

Aftershocks pose a threat

The earthquake was followed by dozens of aftershocks, some of them strong enough to cause further damage and panic. The Moroccan authorities have warned people to stay away from damaged buildings and structures and to be prepared for more tremors in the coming days or weeks.

According to seismologists, aftershocks can last for months or even years after a major earthquake, depending on the size and location of the fault that ruptured. They can also trigger new earthquakes along nearby faults or increase the stress on existing ones.

The High Atlas Mountains are part of a complex tectonic zone where the African and Eurasian plates converge and collide. The region is prone to seismic activity and has experienced several destructive earthquakes in the past. The last major one occurred in 1960, when a 5.7 magnitude quake killed about 12,000 people in Agadir.

Historic sites damaged

The earthquake has also caused damage to some of Morocco’s historic sites and cultural heritage, especially in Marrakesh, which is a popular tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is known for its ancient mosques, palaces, gardens and markets that reflect its rich history and diversity.

Some of the buildings in Marrakesh’s old city have collapsed or cracked under the quake, while others have suffered minor damages. The authorities have closed some of the tourist attractions for safety reasons and have launched an assessment of the extent of the damage.

A team from UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre has arrived in Morocco to assist with the evaluation and restoration of the affected sites. The team will also provide technical advice on how to protect them from future earthquakes and other natural hazards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *