Thousands of displaced Morocco earthquake survivors fear for their future as winter approaches

Newsdesk
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A man loads aid on an animal to be distributed across the village in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, in the rural village of Azermoun, Morocco September 14, 2023. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The catastrophic earthquake that struck Morocco has left thousands of people homeless and in desperate need of humanitarian aid. The quake, which had a magnitude of 6.8 and was the strongest to hit the country in more than a century, killed more than 2,900 people and injured 5,500 others.

The epicenter of the quake was located in the High Atlas mountain range, about 72 kilometers (44.7 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a popular tourist and economic hub. The quake caused widespread damage to towns and villages near the base of the mountains, as well as to the ancient and modern sections of Marrakech. It was felt as far away as Casablanca, Portugal and Algeria.

Many survivors have lost their homes, belongings and livelihoods in the disaster. Some have been staying in makeshift tents or sleeping in the open, while others have been sheltering in schools, mosques or public buildings. The Moroccan government has declared a state of emergency and mobilized the army, police and civil protection forces to assist with rescue and relief efforts. The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, has visited some of the affected areas and pledged to provide financial support to the victims.

However, many survivors say they have not received enough help from the authorities or from international organizations. They complain of a lack of food, water, medicine, blankets and other basic necessities. They also fear for their future as winter approaches, bringing cold temperatures and snow to the mountainous regions. Some say they have no choice but to migrate to other cities or countries in search of safety and opportunities.

The earthquake has also exposed the vulnerability of Morocco’s infrastructure and building standards. Many of the collapsed or damaged structures were old, poorly constructed or not reinforced against seismic activity. Experts say that Morocco needs to invest more in disaster prevention and preparedness, as well as in improving the quality and resilience of its housing and public facilities.

 

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