Earthquake News

Tragedy Strikes Moroccan Mountain Villages in Wake of Earthquake

A somber atmosphere hangs over the village of Imi N’Tala, nestled high in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, following the devastating earthquake that struck last week. The earthquake, which left a trail of destruction in its wake, claimed the lives of numerous residents and reduced the village's mud-brick buildings to rubble.

In a relentless effort to bring closure to affected families, bulldozers and dedicated responders have been working around the clock to uncover the remaining eight to ten bodies still buried beneath the debris. The already fragile situation was further shaken by an aftershock that occurred on Wednesday evening, adding to the tension and anxiety.

Local resident Ait Ougadir Al Houcine described the horrifying moment: "The mountain was split in half and started falling. Houses were fully destroyed. Some people lost all their cattle. We have nothing but the clothes we’re wearing. Everything is gone." His words capture the immense tragedy that has befallen Imi N’Tala, a village predominantly inhabited by herders and farmers, where 96 lives were lost in the earthquake.

The scenes in Imi N’Tala are echoed in numerous other communities along the perilous mountain roads south of Marrakech. In makeshift prayer areas marked by donated djellabas (long, loose robes typical in Morocco), residents gather on dusty terrain and rocky surfaces when open space is scarce. Donkeys bray as they pass by, with people covering their noses to escape the overpowering smell of decomposition.

As responders reach more remote villages, the death toll continues to rise, and the number of injuries surges. Moroccan authorities have reported 2,946 deaths and several thousand injuries as of Wednesday. The United Nations estimates that around 300,000 people have been affected by the magnitude 6.8 earthquake.

On a visit to Marrakech, King Mohammed VI made a meaningful gesture by donating blood at a local hospital. Meanwhile, aid has started to arrive in Imi N’Tala and nearby communities like Anougal, Imi N’Isli, and Igourdane. White and yellow tents line partially paved roads, stacks of water bottles and milk cartons stand nearby, and compassionate Moroccans from larger cities distribute clay tagine pots and carefully packed bags of food aid.

News agencies from France, Spain, and Qatar's Al Jazeera have set up their equipment, capturing the dedication of Moroccan emergency responders. International crews, including those from Qatar, Spain, and various NGOs, tirelessly work to rescue trapped individuals. They jackhammer through rocks to reach victims, even in situations where the danger of collapsing structures looms large.

Patrick Villadry of the French rescue crew, ULIS, explained the unique challenges they face: "When we dig, we look for someone alive. From there, we don’t ask ourselves questions. If they’re alive, great. If they’re dead, it’s a shame." The recovery of the deceased is a crucial aspect of this effort, offering solace to grieving Moroccan families.

Morocco has carefully managed the flow of earthquake aid into the country, permitting response teams from only a select group of nations, including Spain, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, as well as NGOs. French NGO ULIS, represented by Villadry and his five-person, four-dog crew from Nice, stands among the few organizations to have reached the disaster site, arriving on Saturday.

While the government's decision to limit aid and coordination has been explained as a measure to prevent poorly coordinated efforts, some Moroccans remain skeptical. Brahim Ait Blasri, who observed the recovery efforts in Imi N’Tala, voiced his concerns, stating, "It’s not true. It’s politics. We have to set aside our pride. This is too much." The debate over international assistance continues, but the priority remains rescuing survivors and providing support to those affected by this devastating earthquake.

Ready to retrofit?

Let’s make your home safer

Get a professional evaluation

Call 206-352-5644

Sound Seismic
7543 15th Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98117

Contractor's license # SOUNDSL836ND

© 2024 Sound Seismic
Seattle Website Design