People walk over the rubble of a damaged building inside the Medina following a powerful earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco, 11 September 2023. EFE/EPA/YOAN VALAT

Moroccans mobilize to help earthquake survivors

Marrakech, Morocco, Sep 11 (EFE).- Local initiatives in several towns in Morocco have sprung into action to help the survivors of the massive earthquake that struck on Friday night by sending clothes, blankets and food to the worst affected areas.

The search for survivors continued three days after the magnitude-7 quake that has killed nearly 2,500 people and injured 2,476 others, the Moroccan interior ministry said Monday morning.

In Al Hoceima, Chakir al Majrut, one of the leaders of a local initiative to assist the victims of the earthquake, told Efe that six trucks had left early Monday morning from the northern province which itself was struck by an earthquake in 2004 that killed hundreds of people.

The trucks laden with emergency supplies that were collected in the town square thanks to donations from residents of Al Hoceima will travel 1,000 kilometers to reach quake-affected areas in southern Morocco.

Rescue workers in action during a search operation following a powerful earthquake in the village of Talat Talat N’Yaaqoub, south of Marrakesh, Morocco, 11 September 2023. EFE/EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA
Volunteers of Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode sort and pack donated clothes to be sent to Morocco for people affected by the recent earthquake, in Brussels, Belgium, 11 September 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS
A civil protection workers carry a body recovered following a powerful earthquake, in the village of Talat N’Yaaqoub, south of Marrakesh, Morocco, 11 September 2023. EFE/EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA
Rescue team members work among the rubble of a collapsed building following a powerful earthquake in the village of Talat Talat N’Yaaqoub, south of Marrakesh, Morocco, 11 September 2023. EFE/EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA
A civil protection team works to recover the bodies of earthquake victims in Amizmiz, south of Marrakesh, Morocco, 10 September 2023, following a powerful earthquake. EFE/EPA/JALAL MORCHIDI

“The objective is purely human. It is a duty and a debt, because we already know what people need in these circumstances,” al Majrut said, as he remembered the earthquake almost 20 years ago.

An appeal was launched Sunday, and al Majrut said he was “surprised” by the scale of the local population’s willingness to help mitigate the effects of this disaster.

“One woman, by herself, filled up an entire truck with blankets,” he said.

Residents of the nearby town of Bugarman are also pitching in with relief efforts, sending two vans south loaded with aid as well as providing a mini bus, an ambulance and a team of people who will help distribute the supplies, Noredin al Akusi, one of the participants, told Efe.

“We are bringing clothes, baby diapers, milk, jam and cheese, among other things,” he said. “We lived through the same thing in 2004.”

Moroccans living abroad, including in Brussels, Belgium, have also stepped up in their compatriots’ hour of need.

Volunteers are donating much needed clothes, with thousands in central and southern Morocco still sleeping outdoors for fear of aftershocks or buildings that were damaged in the tremor collapsing.

Meanwhile, Morocco’s neighbors to the north, Spain, have sent military emergency workers.

A team of 56 soldiers and 4 dogs, arrived on Sunday in Marrakech to work in an area located 25 kilometers from the epicenter of the quake

The European Union also announced Monday that it has provided an “initial” humanitarian aid of 1 million euros for Morocco to deal with the consequences of the devastating earthquake, and has made available satellite images of the Copernicus community program.

This first package of assistance will serve to “help the most affected people,” the European Commission said in a statement, adding that the funding will go to “support the relief efforts carried out by humanitarian partners in the country.”

The EC explained that since the earthquake struck on Friday night, the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Center has been closely monitoring the situation “closely” and has been in contact with Moroccan authorities to offer them the “EU’s full civil protection assistance.”

The Commission has been in contact with EU member states for the potential mobilization of intervention teams, should Morocco deem it necessary, and the EU’s Copernicus satellite system was activated on Sep. 9 to provide emergency mapping services.

“The tragic earthquake in Morocco has caused terrible suffering and loss of lives. As the EU stands in solidarity with the Moroccan people, we are releasing €1 million in funding to help alleviate the most urgent needs of the most affected population,” Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said.

“The EU remains ready to assist Morocco in any necessary way during this difficult time.” EFE