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Killer quake strikes Morocco

People react during the funeral of two victims of the deadly earthquake, in Moulay Brahim, Morocco.

People react during the funeral of two victims of the deadly earthquake, in Moulay Brahim, Morocco.


The North African nation of Morocco continues to deal with the effects of a catastrophic earthquake that struck on Saturday night, killing at least 2,100 people and injuring another 2,400.

The quake struck in the High Atlas Mountain range, 45 miles southwest of the city of Marrakech, home to 840,000 people. At 6.8 on the Richter scale, it was the country’s most powerful tremor in a century, impacting 300,000 residents in the surrounding area, with some towns totally demolished. Thousands of displaced people are now sleeping outside, in tents, parks and even on roadways.

Rescue workers are struggling to reach survivors in remote areas and the death toll is expected to rise. Many ancient buildings in the Medina, or old town, of Marrakech have been reduced to rubble, and other historic sites destroyed.

Leaders around the world, including American President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, sent condolences and many governments offered support.

Meanwhile, at the G20 summit in Delhi, President Emmanuel Macron of France, which remains Morocco’s main foreign investor, trade partner and creditor, announced the activation of a French government fund to support “solidarity actions”; as of Sunday evening, nearly 2 million euros ($2.14 million US) had been pledged. Many French companies have also offered assistance.

Turkey, which suffered its own devastating earthquake earlier this year, also offered emergency assistance, including tents and personnel, while Algeria, which severed diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021 and closed its airspace to Moroccan aircraft, has reopened it for humanitarian aid and medical flights.

As of late Sunday, the Moroccan government declared that it had accepted emergency assistance from only four countries, the UK, Spain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, amid criticism about the length of time taken to approve assistance in the crucial hours after the disaster. King Mohammed VI also established a relief commission to distribute aid to survivors, including orphans and people who are now homeless, declared three days of national mourning, and indicated that the Moroccan government will consider other offers of assistance if it deems them necessary.


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