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Aid agencies launch appeal to support Morocco earthquake victims

12 September 2023


A man walks through rubble in Talat N’yakoub, Al Haouz province, Marrakech-Safi region, in Morocco, on Monday, three days after the earthquake

A man walks through rubble in Talat N’yakoub, Al Haouz province, Marrakech-Safi region, in Morocco, on Monday, three days after the earthquake

THE Pope expressed gratitude on Sunday to rescue workers helping victims of the largest earthquake in Morocco for more than a century.

The 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck on Friday night in the High Atlas Mountains, with its epicentre 45 miles south-west of Marrakech. News agencies have so far reported 2862 dead, and 2562 injured, making it the deadliest earthquake in the country since 1960.

At the Angelus prayer on Sunday, the Pope spoke of his closeness to the “dear Moroccan people”, Vatican News reported. He prayed for the injured and those “many people” who had died and for their families.

“I thank the rescue workers and those who are seeking to alleviate people’s suffering,” he said. “May the concrete aid of everyone sustain the people in this tragic moment.”

On Sunday, the British Government confirmed that it was deploying a team of search-and-rescue specialists, including 60 people, four search dogs, and rescue equipment, as well as a medical assessment team. It was also deploying an aircraft provided by the Ministry of Defence.

While many modern buildings remained standing, the earthquake flattened the “traditional mud brick houses ubiquitous in the region”, some of which are hundreds of years old, Reuters reported. “In the village of Tinmel, almost every house was pulverised, and the entire community has been left homeless.”

“It’s difficult to pull people out alive, because most of the walls and ceilings turned to earthen rubble when they fell, burying whoever was inside without leaving air spaces,” a military rescue worker told the agency. Villagers have been attempting to dig out survivors with their bare hands. Many have been sleeping outdoors since Friday night.

The 12th-century Tinmel Mosque, constructed from earth and stone, was among the buildings damaged. The UN has reported that road blockages and difficult geographical conditions have made it challenging to conduct search-and-rescue interventions.

The Red Cross has appealed for more than £80 million to provide assistance in Morocco.

Among the agencies that have launched appeals is Oxfam, which has been working in Morocco since 1994. It said this week that its teams were “currently assessing the situation in Morocco and reaching out to partners to see how we can best support them”. It is estimated that at least 300,000 people will be directly affected by the disaster.

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