Moroccans in quake-devastated areas in the Atlas mountains are desperately in need of help. The damage caused by the earthquake has left many residents homeless, and even those still with homes chose to sleep in the open on Saturday night, fearing aftershocks or that damaged roofs and wall could still fall down and crush inhabitants.
There are also shortages of water and health problems caused by many dead animals.
Caroline Holt, the Global Head of Operations at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has told Al Jazeera how they are helping Morocco.
“This (our) response has very much being organised with the Moroccan government taking the lead at this point,” she said, adding that they are also in cooperation with their partner Moroccan Red Crescent in addition to state agencies.
“Search and rescue is critical at this point. Catching people buried under the rubble at this moment is a race against time,” Holt said.
“I don’t think we know the full picture of the extent of the injuries, and the number of deaths and survivors yet,” she added.
According to Mohammed Bin Makhlouf, a geology professor at Abdelmalek Essaadi University, strong aftershocks, such as the magnitude 4.5 earthquake that occurred early on Sunday, are a positive sign.
“When the aftershocks are relatively strong, it means earthquake activity will become less in a given area,” Makhlouf told Al Jazeera.
The professor also said the quake’s high death toll is due to poor infrastructure, as well as its timing as “it happened at night while people were sleeping, especially in villages”.
Many international leaders including France, Turkey, and the US have offered help, but local search and rescue efforts over the next 24 hours will be crucial.
Statement from President Joe Biden on the Earthquake in Morocco
I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake in Morocco. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this terrible hardship. My administration is in contact with…
— U.S. Embassy Morocco (@USEmbMorocco) September 9, 2023
Sources. Al Jazeera, BBC, news agencies.