Moroccans spend second night on streets after powerful earthquake kills more than 2,000


Marrakesh
CNN

Rescue workers in Morocco have been scrambling to find survivors since Friday A powerful earthquakeMore than 2,000 people were killed and remote villages near the epicenter were destroyed.

Panicked Moroccans spent a second night on the streets, too afraid to return to their homes. Three days of mourning are observed following the country’s deadliest earthquake in decades.

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake occurred Friday struck late. According to the US Geological Survey, it was the strongest to hit the region around the ancient city of Marrakech in a century.

According to Moroccan authorities, 2,012 people have been killed and 1,404 seriously injured so far.

In historic Marrakech, the largest city near the epicenter and a major tourist attraction, many families stayed outdoors Saturday night as authorities warned residents to watch closely for tremors.

Hatimi, 53, slept in a central Marrakech park with her entire family, including young children. She said they stayed together because it was cold at night. “Everybody was outside. All the neighbors, everyone. We didn’t want to go in, everyone was scared, the shaking was so strong,” he told CNN.

People stayed away from the damaged buildings and surrounding red mud walls in the city’s tightly packed medieval center, where parts had collapsed.

In Oliveraie Park in central Marrakech, hundreds of people, including children and the elderly, slept on blankets and makeshift mattresses. Families huddled together trying to get some rest after the shock and panic from the night before.

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Hussein Adnai carries items from his damaged home after the devastating earthquake in Moulay Brahim, Morocco, on Sunday, September 10.

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People displaced by the earthquake in Marrakech, Morocco on September 9 take shelter in a park.

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People gather near a damaged building on a street in Marrakech, Morocco, September 9.

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Mohamed, 66, stands next to a damaged house in the village of Moulay Brahim in Al Houze province, Morocco, September 9.

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Moroccan state armed forces evacuate a body from an earthquake-ravaged house in the mountain village of Tafeghagte on September 9.

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The minaret of a mosque stands behind damaged or destroyed houses following the September 9 earthquake in Moulay Brahim, Morocco.

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People mourn the victims of an earthquake in Moulay Brahim, Morocco on September 9.

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A resident walks through the rubble in Marrakech, Morocco on September 9.

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A damaged building is seen in Marrakech, Morocco on September 9.

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Rescue workers search through the rubble in Amismis, Morocco on September 9.

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A woman stands in front of her earthquake-damaged house in Marrakech, Morocco on September 9.

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People inspect damaged houses in Moulay Brahim, Morocco on September 9.

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Rescue workers search for survivors of a collapsed house in Morocco’s Al Houze province on September 9.

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A woman looks at the ruins of a building in Marrakech, Morocco on September 9.

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A damaged vehicle sits on a street in Marrakech, Morocco on September 9.

Some brought clothes and bags of food, preparing to leave their homes for a long stay.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has given instructions to set up a commission for relief services to provide care, housing and food to victims. He has ordered mosques across the country to hold funeral rites known as ‘Janaza’ prayers at noon on Sunday for those killed.

Flags around the city are flown at half-mast to mark three days of national mourning declared by the monarchy.

At Marrakesh’s airport, dozens of tourists were sleeping on the floor in the main terminal, waiting to catch their flight. Flights in and out of the tourist center operated as usual.

Scenes of devastation and despair also played out in villages in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, where the quake was epicentered.

A large number of deaths occurred in these remote areas, with houses made of mud bricks collapsing on residents and rocks blocking roads for rescue teams to arrive.

Aerial footage shows villages on the slopes, reduced to piles of rubble after the quake.

Fatima, 50, told CNN her home in the mountain village of Asni was destroyed.

“I didn’t get a chance to grab the kids and run out before I saw my house collapsing before my eyes. Neighbors also collapsed and two people were found dead under the debris,” he said.

Mohammed, 50, from the nearby town of Ouirgane, lost four family members in the quake.

“I managed to get out safely with my two children, but I lost the rest. My house is gone,” he said.

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Rescue operations are ongoing there.

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“We are in the streets as the authorities try to pull the dead from the rubble. Many people were taken to the hospital before me. We expect miracles from the ruins,” Mohammed said.

In the small town of Moulay Brahim, footage released by Reuters showed villagers digging through rubble to retrieve bodies.

Rescue workers are racing against time. The first 72 hours after an earthquake is the most critical period for finding survivors, as the condition of trapped and injured people can rapidly deteriorate beyond that window.

“They call it the ‘golden age’ because if you’re going to pull people out from under the rubble, now is the time to do it,” said Joe English, spokesperson for the UN’s Children Fund, UNICEF.

“These towns and villages, they are remote and difficult to reach…International support and solidarity is absolutely critical,” he added.

Leaders from around the world have expressed their condolences and offered international aid to Morocco.

France activated emergency aid funded by local governments, while Israel’s emergency services prepared to mobilize in Morocco.

The United Arab Emirates will establish an “air bridge” to deliver supplies, and Algeria reopened its airspace, despite earlier cutting diplomatic ties with Morocco, for humanitarian aid and medical flights. Turkey also sends personnel and tents.

More than 300,000 people have been affected by the powerful earthquake in and around Marrakech, the World Health Organization said.

The country has not seen a comparable disaster since 2004, when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the port city of Al Hoceima, killing 630 people.

Morocco’s worst earthquake in modern times killed at least 12,000 people near the western city of Agadir in 1960.

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