Morocco earthquake search for survivors: What you need to know

The death toll is expected to rise over the coming days as rescuers continue to search through rubble for survivors.

The search for survivors continues after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Morocco on Friday night (local time), so far killing more than 2,100 people with at least 2,421 more injured. Survivors are struggling to find food, water and shelter, and rugged terrain is making it difficult for help to reach some hard-hit communities.

What you need to know

  • It’s the country's deadliest earthquake in more than six decades. In 1960 a 6.7 magnitude tremor hit Agadir on the southern Atlantic coast, killing at least 12,000 people.

  • Witnesses say "the screaming and crying was unbearable" after the quake hit with reports it sounded like "a fighter jet," getting louder and louder.

  • An aftershock of 4.9 magnitude struck 19 minutes after the first earthquake at 11.11pm. There have been warnings of more aftershocks following another 4.5 earthquake early on Sunday morning (local time).

  • Rescuers and residents have been digging through rubble with their bare hands in an attempt to find survivors. Many people remain unaccounted for.

  • The high death toll is due to poor infrastructure, as well as timing. "It happened at night while people were sleeping, especially in villages," a geology professor told Al Jazeera.

  • The quake's epicentre was in the High Atlas Mountains, 71km southwest of Marrakesh. Eyewitnesses in the foothills of the mountains said some towns are completely destroyed, including Marrakesh's old city, a Unesco World Heritage site.

Rescue workers take part in a rescue operation following a powerful earthquake in Ouirgane, south of Marrakesh, Morocco
Rescue workers are continuing to look for survivors following the earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco. Source: AAP

🗣️ What they said

A villager told the BBC: "People are starving. Children want water. They need help."

Australian woman Melinda Cowley who's lived in Marrakesh for eight years, was getting into bed when it hit: "It was like, honestly, armageddon. There's a lot of damage everywhere; a lot of destruction."

Survivor Michael Bizet, who was in Marrakesh's old town, told AFP he thought his bed was going to "fly away". "It was total chaos, a real catastrophe, madness," he said.

Survivor Abdou Rahman wasn't home when the earthquake struck and returned to a tragic scene: "When we found [my three sons], they were all huddled together... they went down with the earthquake".

Caroline Holt, global director of operations for International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told Al Jazeera: "Search and rescue is critical at this point. Catching people buried under the rubble at this moment is a race against time. I don’t think we know the full picture of the extent of the injuries, and the number of deaths and survivors yet".

💬 Conversation starter

Players and staff from Morocco's national football team, the Atlas Lions, have donated blood to help victims of the earthquake. The team was due to play an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Liberia on Saturday but the game was cancelled.

Morocco earthquake map
The quake's epicentre was in the High Atlas Mountains, 71km southwest of Marrakesh. Source: Yahoo News Australia

⏭️ So what next?

Rescuers continue in their effort to find survivors. The death toll is expected to rise. Many countries, including France and Turkey have offered assistance. Meanwhile, teams from Spain, the US and Qatar have been deployed.

The local government has sent search and rescue teams who have been providing drinking water and distributing food, tents and blankets. Charities, both local and global, are appealing for funds to help those affected access basic necessities and medical assistance. Find out more about how you can donate.

🗞️ Read more:

With Reuters and AAP

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