Live Updates: Morocco struggles after rare, powerful earthquake kills and injures scores of people
Sep 9, 2023, 7:22 AM
(AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Follow live updates of a deadly, powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, killing more than 1,300 people and causing widespread damage in and around the city of Marrakesh.
— Morocco was shaken by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake late Friday
— Morocco’s African Cup qualifier postponed because of quake
— A look at some of the deadliest quakes in the last 25 years
Morocco has revised upward the death toll from a powerful earthquake that shook Marrakesh and surrounding regions.
The Interior Ministry said late Saturday that 1,305 people were killed when the temblor struck late Friday. The toll is expected to rise as rescuers struggled to reach hard-hit remote areas.
The ministry said the highest number of deaths were recorded in Al Houze province, with 694 killed; and Taroudant, with 347.
The government also announced three days of national mourning.
The magnitude 6.8 quake on Friday was the biggest to hit the North African country in 120 years.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a phone call with his Moroccan counterpart to express Israel’s desire to assist the earthquake-stricken country “as much as is required.” Gallant ordered the Israeli military to prepare to provide Morocco with humanitarian aid.
Israel and Morocco normalized relations in 2020 and have recently moved to deepen their diplomatic and security ties. Moroccan Senate president Enaam Mayara was scheduled to be the first Moroccan official and one of the few Muslim leaders ever to set foot in Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, earlier in the week but called off the visit to Israel at the last minute due to a medical emergency.
“A significant part of the Abraham Accords is our commitment to stand by our partners during difficult times,” Gallant said a in statement Saturday, referring to the U.S.-brokered accords that formalized ties between Israel and some Arab nations.
President Joe Biden was among world leaders expressing sadness at the devastation facing the North African kingdom of Morocco after a powerful earthquake shook Marrakesh and its environs and killed more than 1,000 people.
Biden said Saturday that U.S. officials had been in contact with Morocco to offer help.
“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.”
Turkey, which lost tens of thousands of people in a massive earthquake earlier this year, was among those proposing assistance. France and Germany, with large populations of people with Moroccan origins, also offered to help. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the government has been in touch with Moroccan officials about the possibility of providing help or rescue assistance.
Elsewhere, Qatar offered “provide all necessary assistance to the affected areas to support their recovery from the effects of the earthquake,” according to a statement by Qatar News Agency. The Emirates News Agency reported that Dubai police rescue teams were dispatching aid. King Abdullah II of Jordan also extended an offer of help.
Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolences, expressing his “profound solidarity” with those affected by the catastrophe. Francis visited Morocco in 2019.
Algeria has offered humanitarian aid to neighboring Morocco after a powerful earthquake in the kingdom on Friday night left more than 1,000 people dead.
In an exceptional move, Algeria offered to open its airspace to allow eventual humanitarian aid or medical evacuation flights to travel to and from Morocco. Algeria closed the airspace when its government severed diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021 over a series of issues. The countries have a decades-long dispute involving the territory of Western Sahara.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s office said in a statement Saturday that Algeria is ready to offer humanitarian aid ‘’in solidarity with the brotherly Moroccan people, in case the authorities of the Moroccan kingdom express a wish for this.’’
The statement also offered to reopen the airspace, and condolences for the dead and ‘’deepest compassion’’ for the injured.
Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, says it is prepared to respond to the earthquake in Morocco that killed more than 1,000 people and left many more injured.
People were jolted out of bed Friday night by the magnitude 6.8 quake, a rarity in Morocco. In addition to the dead and injured, scores of structures not built to withstand such a powerful temblor crashed to the ground.
Avril Benoît, executive director of MSF-USA, said in a statement that people who live in the affected region are “key to the initial response” when searching for survivors.
“Earthquake survivors often require medical care such as surgery or dialysis, which can be a challenge when local health systems are affected by a disaster. Restoring health services and providing essential supplies also can be a priority at this stage. Our response will depend on the needs that are assessed on site.”
The dead are mostly in Marrakech and the five provinces near the quake’s epicenter, Morocco’s Interior Ministry reported Saturday morning.