Moroccans spent their second night in the streets after a powerful earthquake killed more than 2,000 people


Marrakesh
CNN

Rescuers in Morocco are making unremitting efforts to find survivors of Friday’s drowning Strong earthquakeMore than 2,000 people were killed and remote villages near the epicenter were destroyed.

Terrified Moroccans spent a second night in the streets, too afraid to return to their homes. Three days of mourning are underway after the country’s deadliest earthquake in decades.

6.8 magnitude earthquake It hit late Friday. It was also the strongest earthquake to hit the area around Marrakesh’s old city in a century, according to the US Geological Survey.

So far, 2,012 people have been killed and 1,404 others seriously injured, according to Moroccan authorities, but the death toll is expected to rise further as rescuers dig through the rubble of collapsed homes in remote areas of the High Atlas Mountains.

In historic Marrakesh, the largest city close to the epicenter and a major tourist attraction, many families spent Saturday night outdoors, as authorities warned residents to be extremely careful of aftershocks.

Hatami, 53, was sleeping in a park in central Marrakesh with her entire family, including her young children. She said it got cold at night, so they stayed together. “Everyone was outside. All the neighbors, everyone. We don’t want to go in, everyone is scared, and the shaking was very strong,” she told CNN.

People stayed away from damaged buildings in the crowded medieval city center as well as the surrounding red earth walls, parts of which had collapsed.

In Oliveira Park in central Marrakesh, hundreds of people, including children and the elderly, sleep on temporary blankets and mattresses. Families huddled together trying to get some rest after the shock and panic of the previous night.

Hannah McKay – Reuters

A woman looks on as people inspect damaged buildings in Moulay Brahim, Morocco, on September 10.

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People take shelter in a park after being left homeless due to the earthquake that occurred on September 9, in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Hannah McKay – Reuters

People gather next to a damaged building on a street in Marrakesh, Morocco, September 9.

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Mohamed, 66, stands near his damaged house in the village of Moulay Brahim, in Al Haouz province, Morocco, September 9.

Fadel Sina/AFP/Getty Images

The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces evacuate a body from a house destroyed by the earthquake that struck the mountain village of Tafghaght on September 9.

Fadel Sina/AFP/Getty Images

A mosque minaret stands behind homes damaged or destroyed following the earthquake that struck Moulay Brahim, Morocco, on September 9.

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People mourn the victims of the Moulay Ibrahim earthquake in Morocco on September 9.

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A resident navigates through rubble in Marrakesh, Morocco, on September 9.

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A damaged building in Marrakesh, Morocco, on September 9th.

Abdelhak Belhaqi – Reuters

Rescue workers search through the rubble in Amizmiz, Morocco, on September 9th.

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A woman stands in front of her earthquake-damaged house in Marrakesh, Morocco, on September 9.

Musaab Al-Shami / A.B

People inspect damaged homes in Moulay Brahim, Morocco, on September 9th.

Fadel Sina/AFP/Getty Images

Rescue workers search for survivors in a collapsed house in Al Haouz region, Morocco, on September 9th.

Fadel Sina/AFP/Getty Images

A woman looks at the ruins of a building in Marrakech, Morocco, on September 9th.

Abdelhak Belhaqi – Reuters

A damaged car sits on a street in Marrakesh, Morocco, on September 9.

Some brought bags of clothes and food, preparing to stay away from their homes for a longer period.

And King Mohammed VI of Morocco issued his instructions to establish a committee for relief services to provide care, housing and food for those affected. He also ordered mosques across the country to hold funeral prayers, known as “jazaza” prayers, at noon on Sunday for the dead.

Flags throughout the city are flown at half mast on the occasion of the three-day national mourning declared by the monarchy.

At Marrakesh Airport, dozens of tourists slept on the floor in the main hall, waiting for the departure flight. Flights to and from the tourist center remained operating mostly as normal.

Scenes of destruction and despair also appeared in the villages scattered on the slopes of the Atlas Mountains, where the epicenter of the earthquake was.

These remote areas witnessed the largest number of deaths, as mud-brick houses collapsed on residents and rocks blocked the way for rescue teams to arrive.

Aerial footage showed villages perched on cliffs flattened into piles of rubble in the quake’s aftermath.

Fatima, 50, told CNN that her home in the mountain village of Asni was destroyed.

“I barely had a chance to grab the children and run away before I saw my house collapse before my eyes,” she added. “The neighbor’s house also collapsed and there are two dead under the rubble.”

Mohammed, 50, from the nearby town of Werkan, lost four members of his family in the earthquake.

“I was able to get out safely with my baby but I lost the rest. My house is gone,” he said.

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Rescue operations there are continuing.

“We are in the streets with the authorities trying to extract the dead from under the rubble. Several people were taken to the hospital in front of me. We hope for miracles to come from under the rubble,” Mohammed said.

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In the small town of Moulay Brahim, footage released by Reuters showed villagers digging through rubble to retrieve bodies.

Rescuers are racing against time. The first 72 hours after an earthquake is the most critical period for finding survivors, as the condition of trapped and injured people can rapidly deteriorate beyond that period.

“They call it the ‘golden period’ because if you want to get people out of the rubble, this is the time to do it,” said Joe English, a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“These towns and villages are remote and difficult to reach… International support and solidarity is critical,” he added.

Leaders from around the world offered their condolences to Morocco and offered international assistance.

France activated emergency aid funded by local governments, while Israeli emergency services prepared to mobilize in Morocco.

The United Arab Emirates will establish an “air bridge” to deliver supplies, and Algeria has reopened its airspace to humanitarian aid and medical flights despite previously severing diplomatic relations with Morocco. Türkiye is also sending personnel and tents.

The World Health Organization said more than 300,000 people were affected by the powerful tremors that hit Marrakesh and surrounding areas.

The country has not witnessed a similar disaster since 2004, when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the coastal city of Al Hoceima, killing about 630 people.

The worst earthquake in Morocco in the modern era occurred in 1960 near the western city of Agadir, killing at least 12,000 people.

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