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Dealing with Devastation in Morocco After the Earthquake

posted on: Sep 13, 2023

 Flag of Morocco under a cloudy sky / Photo Credit: Lens

By: Rina Acevedo / Arab America Contributing Writer

What We Know

A devastating night occurred in Morocco on Friday, September 8th, 2023, as an earthquake of 6.8 magnitude hit at 11:11 p.m., with shakes that lasted several minutes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, making it the biggest earthquake to hit the Arab Country in 120 years. The additional aftershock lasted 19 minutes with a reported earthquake of 4.9 magnitude. The earthquake came in the middle of the night, causing many families to scramble in the streets for shelter, trying to avoid the debris from collapsing buildings. More than 380,000 people live within 30 miles of the epicenter, and the earthquake was felt by residents in the cities of Casablanca, Marrakesh, Mohammedia, and Agadir.

Building turned into rubble from 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Morocco. / Picture credits: IG/morocco _marruecos

The Aftermath

As daylight arrived, it was heartbreaking to see the loss that Morocco had to face. Local media, TV stations, and social media became the window to the rest of the world when they shared the tragic remnants of the devastating earthquake. Those who survived are left dealing with the aftermath as the death toll surpasses 2,000 lives and is suspected to rise in the coming days. Videos shared on social media show the mayhem that took place as citizens ran out of buildings, out of their homes, out of businesses and into the street to take shelter from the earthquake. Hospital staff were seen attending their patients in the streets in fear of the possible aftermath.

Dealing with Devastation in Morocco After the Earthquake

Hospital staff attending to their patients in the streets as they seek shelter / Picture Credit: Instagram/timothysykes

Videos also showed people gathering in the streets to keep away from damaged buildings in Marrakech, surrounded by rubble, vehicles covered in debris. Older structures easily collapsed from the violent shakes as images show buildings turn into dangerous debris. As daylight came, historic structures, like the Tinmel Mosque, had been damaged by the violent shakes. Many buildings have been reduced to rubble.

Dealing with Devastation in Morocco After the Earthquake

Aftermath of Friday’s earthquake / Picture Credit: Instagram/simplymorocco

Search-and-Rescue Efforts

As the news of the tragedy hit worldwide, countries and organizations came to Morocco’s aid to assist the victims and show global solidarity. Humanitarian organizations have sent rescue teams and emergency medical aid to support relief efforts. Local authorities aid the victims and rescuers race against time to dig for survivors under the rubble, in the hopes of finding their loved ones.

Algerian President opened their airspace to flights transporting humanitarian aid following the earthquake – this came as a surprise as Morocco and Algeria broke off ties in August 2021. Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief is preparing a special team to send to Morocco and assist in rescue operations and search for survivors. In Qatar, the Lucille Towers became lit with the Moroccan flag and displayed the words, “May Allah protect the people of Morocco”, to show solidarity in such troubling times. The United States President, Joe Biden, released a statement on September 9th, 2023:

Via White House Press – Briefing Room

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake in Morocco. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this terrible hardship. My administration is in contact with Moroccan officials. We are working expeditiously to ensure American citizens in Morocco are safe, and stand ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people. The United States stands by Morocco and my friend King Mohammed VI at this difficult moment.”

The US has sent disaster experts to help access the damage left behind. Spain’s Defence Minister, Margarita Roble, stated on Sunday, September 10th, that a military search and rescue unit arrived in Morocco and was dispatched to the damaged cities. Celebrities like Moroccan Soccer Star, Achraf Hakimi, pleaded on his social media platform:

“Right now, the priority is to provide blood to those in critical situations. Blood donation is everyone’s responsibility to save as many lives as possible. Your help is essential”.

There were reports that Al Nassr Soccer star, Cristiano Ronaldo, in a humanitarian initiative had also offered his hotel in Marrakech as a refuge to earthquake victims and those needing shelter, however, the hotel representative has stated this is not correct.

With so many of the roads being blocked by collapsed buildings, many of those affected living in remote areas are still awaiting assistance. The Moroccan government has not yet called on all the countries that are willing and are on stand-by to help. Spain and Israel’s aid have been accepted while many countries, like France and Tunisia, wait to be called by the Moroccan government.

How You Can Help

The International Federation of Red Cross sent immediate aid shortly after the earthquake, they were first on the ground to provide relief efforts to the Moroccan Red Crescent and give urgent aid. You can help by donating via this link.

The Islamic Relief USA, a non profit organization, is working to assist with food, shelter and medical aid. According to their website, The Islamic Relief family have committed to $10 million toward relief efforts. You can provide additional assistance by donating via this link.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is proving support for families that were impacted by the devastation. Those displaced by the quake are in need of shelter, clean water, medical care and counseling support. To donate to help, follow this link.

Doctors without Borders has plan to send emergency medical and humanitarian teams to Morocco to provide medical supplies, health services, and help hospital staff that are overwhelmed with the current state. To help in giving lifesaving care, please donate using this link.

Thank you to all the Arab America Contributing Writers, in assisting with this article.

Check out Arab America’s blog here.