Residents search through the rubble of their homes in Imoulas village of the Taroudant province, one of the most devastated in quake-hit Morocco, on September 11, 2023.

Residents search through the rubble of their homes in Imoulas village of the Taroudant province, one of the most devastated in quake-hit Morocco, on September 11, 2023.

Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images.

Morocco Grapples with Devastation After Deadly Earthquake

Morocco races against time to find earthquake survivors as the death toll soars, receiving international aid and facing challenges in rebuilding amidst the devastation.

Search and rescue efforts are in full swing as Moroccan authorities race against time to locate survivors in the aftermath of the country's most devastating earthquake in over sixty years. The death toll has tragically risen to nearly 2,500, and the extensive destruction has come into stark focus.

Rescue teams from Spain and Britain have joined hands to scour the rubble for individuals trapped beneath debris. The High Atlas Mountains region was struck by a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake late on Friday night, with the epicenter situated 72 km (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech.

A harrowing total of 2,681 lives have been lost, leaving a trail of devastation across the High Atlas Mountains. As experts warn of continued aftershocks in the coming weeks or months, Remy Mossu, the director of the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, stressed the certainty of future seismic activity.

Desperate villagers are struggling to find adequate space for burials, with funeral proceedings taking place alongside ongoing rescue operations. Extra graves are being prepared in anticipation of more casualties.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco expressed gratitude to Spain, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates for their assistance. The U.K. government is set to dispatch 60 search and rescue specialists and four search dogs to Morocco.

The rehabilitation of earthquake-ravaged areas could span several years, according to the Red Cross.

In the heart of Marrakesh's old city at Jemaa el-Fna Square, Khadija Satou described an eerie atmosphere, with some shops shuttered and a mosque damaged due to the earthquake. However, some shopkeepers chose to remain open to avoid deterring tourists, emphasizing the city's dependence on tourism.

A taxi driver nearby called for government-enforced regulations to ensure that rebuilt homes are better equipped to withstand future natural disasters.

A woman originally from Al Hoceima, a coastal town in northern Morocco, recounted her experience during the deadly 2004 earthquake there and expressed sympathy for those affected by the recent disaster.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has released over $1 million from its emergency disaster fund to support the Moroccan Red Crescent's efforts on the ground, emphasizing the critical nature of the next 24 to 48 hours in saving lives.

Qatar is also extending aid to Morocco, with preparations underway to send four planes loaded with essential supplies, including vehicles, tents, medical equipment, search and rescue tools, and food.

Rugged terrain is posing significant challenges in reaching the hardest-hit communities in Morocco, where many individuals remain trapped beneath the rubble. Authorities are grappling with logistical concerns due to blocked roads and the vast scope of the disaster.

Numerous sections of the 700-hectare (1,730-acre) medina, along with its intricate network of alleyways, bear the brunt of the destruction, featuring piles of debris and collapsed structures.

The 12th-century walls encompassing the city, a testament to the millennium-old legacy established by the Almoravid dynasty, have also sustained partial disfigurement due to the seismic event.

Eric Falt, the Maghreb region director for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stressed the paramount importance of preserving human life in the aftermath of such a catastrophe. He also underscored the immediate need for planning the second phase of recovery, which encompasses the reconstruction of schools and cultural assets impacted by the earthquake.