More than 2,900 people died as a result of the earthquake of magnitude 6.8 on the Richter scale that shook the High Atlas area in central Morocco on Friday, according to a new official toll of victims released this Tuesday by the Ministry of the Interior. Moroccan.
Specifically, the Government has already documented 2,901 deathswhile the number of injured amounts to 5,530. In the province of Al Haouz alone, 1,643 people have died, while in Taroudant the figure rises to 976, according to a report that lists deaths in a dozen regions.
Moroccan emergency services continue to be deployed in the affected areas, where only teams sent by four countries – Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – have been able to access them, since Rabat has not accepted the help offered by other governments. alleging logistical reasons.
The King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, visited the Marrakech University Hospital this Tuesday, where dozens of injured people are recovering. After several days of silence and no public appearance, the Alawite monarch was seen for the first time after Friday’s disaster, although His visit to the Marrakech hospital barely lasted 20 minutesaccording to the portal Le 360.
On the other hand, The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that about 100,000 children have been affected by the earthquake and called to respond to the needs of minors and to take into account that aftershocks may still occur.
In total, the UN estimates that more than 300,000 people have been affected in Marrakech and the High Atlas area. Unicef has not yet been able to verify how many children may have lost their lives, but it has recalled that in 2022 it was estimated that children represented almost a third of the entire population.
The agency has already mobilized humanitarian personnel to support the immediate response but has recalled that, beyond the short term, other needs arise. So, numerous families have been left homeless at a time of year when temperatures are already beginning to drop drastically at night. In addition, facilities such as schools or hospitals, which can cause side effects in children, according to Unicef.
The 6.8 magnitude earthquake late Friday left around about thirty aftershocks that exceed magnitude 3according to the Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Center (CSEM), which has detected less seismic activity in recent days.
An earthquake like Friday’s usually leaves behind a series of aftershocks that can also reach dangerous levels, although in the case of Morocco the largest occurred just after the initial earthquake, with a magnitude of 4.8. On Saturday morning, however, it also reached 4.2 on the Richter scale.
The situation now seems more stabilized –On Monday only two aftershocks were recorded, with magnitudes 3.4 and 3.6-, according to the CSEM, which brings together the information collected by seismographs from official institutes throughout Europe and even from several North African countries, such as Morocco.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that one in every 20 earthquakes like the one in Morocco results in a similar or even larger aftershock in the following week, although sources from this center consulted by Europa Press have pointed out that the probability of this being the case decreases over time.
The most frequent scenario, to which the USGS gives a probability of 98%, involves a progressive reduction in both the number and magnitude of aftershocks, so that only moderate movements are contemplated that, in some cases, can affect structures already weakened on the surface.
Another scenario, which is around 2% in terms of probability, does foresee one or more aftershocks of magnitude greater than 6, while there would be less than 1% chance that Morocco would suffer in the short term an earthquake that exceeds the levels of the one that occurred on September 8th. If necessary, this second earthquake would itself lead to its own sequence of aftershocks.
Problems for humanitarian aid
Likewise, Friday’s powerful earthquake has posed a great challenge for rescue services and humanitarian aid agencies, which are facing the lack of access to the most vulnerable communities in remote areas of the High Atlas.
The earthquake has left thousands of people on the streets, out in the open and without resources within their reach. Najwa Mekki, director of communications at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said in statements to Europa Press that the situation “makes the task of the rescue teams even more difficult.”
“Many families sleep outdoors, exposed to the elements. They need food, shelter, health, drinking water and protection,” warned Mekki, who pointed out that the landslides They have made many roads “impassable” even though most hospitals are functioning.
In this sense, he stated that the earthquake affected remote areas, among “already vulnerable” communities that need basic products as soon as possible, such as food and tents, among others.
A large number of families are still trapped under the rubble due to aftershocks and difficult geographical conditions continue to hinder the possibility of carrying out search and rescue interventions.
“We know that as the magnitude of the population’s needs become known, additional aid will be essential and we are prepared to support the Government and people of Morocco,” Mekki said, although Moroccan authorities have not submitted any requests for that the UN coordinates efforts on the ground and has only approved aid from a few countries.
However, he warned that it is precisely the Moroccan authorities who “are leading the response and have deployed enormous efforts, including medical personnel and equipment.” Thus, he highlighted that The Army collaborates “closely” with the international search and rescue teams that have begun to arrive. “Local communities, volunteers and people across the country have provided immediate support to affected families,” he noted.
Civil protection units, for their part, work to guarantee a increased reserves in blood banks and the provision of vital resources to the affected areas, while Moroccan Red Crescent (MRCS) teams continue to respond on the ground providing first aid, psychosocial support and helping to transport the injured to hospitals.
Hope for finding survivors falls
The troops displaced by the NGOs Firefighters United Without Borders (BUSF) and Firefighters for the World to the area of Morocco affected by the earthquake They almost 100% rule out being able to find someone alive under the rubble four days after the incident.
In statements to EFEthe president of BUSF in Huelva, Antonio Nogales, who is in the area, said that it is expected that this Tuesday they will continue with the tasks that began yesterday to support the army at different points to rule out the existence of survivors before bringing in heavy machinery.
“From now on, other types of risks begin with the issue of decomposition epidemicsFurthermore, they want to bury their loved ones, that’s why they want to put in heavy machinery to speed everything up,” Nogales noted.
They hope that this Tuesday morning they will continue with this work, although “the possibilities of there being people alive are almost ruled out. We cannot say it like that because I imagine that there may still be some rescue situation, but the chances have already decreased a lot“, accurate.
A team from the NGO Firefighters for the World has also traveled to the High Atlas, the epicenter of the earthquake that shook Morocco four days ago. One of the members of this team, Jair Pereira, explained to EFE who are working in one of the areas most devastated by the earthquake, where few homes are left standing.
“There is a very high degree of devastation”said Pereira, who attributed this situation to the intensity of the earthquake and the type of buildings, mostly made of adobe, a material that dissolves quickly and leaves no air pockets.
The rescuers from Firefighters for the World have not found anyone alive these days and the survival curve decreases every minute, so they find it difficult for there to be buried alive people. “But we are going to continue looking for survivors with the same intensity as the first day, we will continue here until they tell us otherwise,” Pereira stressed.
This firefighter from Malaga stressed that the coordination of the rescue teams is good. A large amount of water and food is also reaching the High Atlas, which is distributed in vehicles and even on donkeys by the affected populations.
(With information from EuropaPress and EFE)