Newborn baby survives Morocco quake in a roadside tent

Khadija’s baby doesn’t even have a name yet, but her first home is a tent by the side of the road. She was born just minutes before Morocco’s deadly earthquake struck on Friday night, killing more than 600 people and injuring thousands more.

Though the mother and daughter were unhurt, the hospital in Marrakesh they were in was evacuated. After a quick check up, they were asked to leave just three hours after the birth. “They told us we had to go due to the fear of aftershocks,” she said.

Newborn baby survives Morocco quake in a roadside tent
Newborn baby survives Morocco quake in a roadside tent

With their new-born, Khadija and her husband tried to take a taxi early on Saturday to their home in Taddart in the Atlas Mountains, about 65km (40 miles) from Marrakesh. But on their way there they found that the roads were blocked by landslides, and only made it as far as the village of Asni.

The family have been living in a tent by the side of the main road since. “I haven’t received any help or assistance from authorities,” she told us, holding her baby while sheltering from the sun under a flimsy piece of tarpaulin. “We asked some people in this village for blankets so that we had something to cover us up.”

“We have only God,” she added.

Since then, they have managed to build a basic tent. Khadija told us she has only has one set of clothes for the baby. Friends from their hometown have told the family that their house is badly damaged, and they have no idea when they might have somewhere suitable to stay.

Growing anger

Not far from Khadija’s tent there are signs of the growing frustration at the little help reaching towns and villages in the rural mountainous areas south of Marrakesh. Asni is just 50km (30 miles) from Marrakesh, but people say they urgently need aid to be delivered.

A scrum of angry people surrounded a local reporter, aiming their frustrations at him. “We don’t have food, we don’t have bread nor vegetables. We have nothing,” said one man in the crowd who didn’t want to give his name. “No-one came to us, we don’t have anything. We only have God and the king.”

Angry crowds awaiting aid surrounded a local reporter in Asni

Since the earthquake he has been living on the side of the village’s main road with his four children. His house is still standing, but all of the walls are badly cracked and are too scared to stay there. They have managed to return and take some blankets, which are now all they have to sleep on.

As a truck drove past the crowd some people tried to flag it down, desperately hoping it carried supplies. But it just headed on, followed by jeers.

The reporter at the centre of the crowd was escorted away by police, still followed by people desperate to vent their anger.

Some people say they have received tents from authorities, but there are nowhere near enough for all the people in need.

A race to save survivors

Meanwhile, rescue workers are still searching for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings in several towns and villages hit by the quake. The epicentre was near Imilchil, a remote town in the High Atlas Mountains, where more than 300 people died.

The quake measured 7.1 on the Richter scale and was felt as far away as Spain and Algeria. It was the most powerful quake to ever hit Morocco and the deadliest since 1960, when more than 12,000 people died in Agadir.

Rescue workers are digging with bare hands and using sniffer dogs to locate any signs of life. The Moroccan government has mobilised thousands of soldiers, police officers and civil protection personnel to assist in the relief efforts.

Many countries and international organisations have also offered their help and sent humanitarian aid to Morocco. The United Nations said it was ready to provide emergency shelter, food, water and sanitation supplies to the affected areas.

Rescue workers are digging with bare hands and using sniffer dogs

A call for solidarity

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI visited some of the worst-hit areas on Saturday and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. He also ordered an investigation into the causes of the quake and the response of the authorities.

The king urged all Moroccans to show solidarity and generosity towards their fellow citizens who have lost everything in the disaster. He also thanked all the countries and organisations that have expressed their sympathy and support to Morocco.

Many Moroccans have responded to the king’s call and donated money, clothes, food and other items to help the quake victims. Some have also volunteered to join the rescue teams or provide medical assistance.

However, many others are still waiting for help to arrive or for information about their missing relatives. The quake has left a trail of devastation and grief across Morocco that will take a long time to heal.

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