Disasters & Accidents

Rehousing of quake victims underway in Morocco mountains as death toll nears 3,000

Amizmiz, Morocco, Sep 13 (EFE).- Moroccan authorities on Wednesday were relocating residents of Amizmiz and other mountainous areas that were damaged by last week’s powerful earthquake ahead of the anticipated arrival of heavy rains.

Downpours are forecast to hit the area from Thursday, severely hampering rescue efforts and putting people who have been sleeping outdoors since Sep. 8’s magnitude-7 quake at risk.

The tremor has left almost 3,000 dead and more than 5,500 injured so far, according to the interior ministry.

The Moroccan army began relocation operations on Tuesday and re-housed 1,000 people in a camp located on the outskirts of Amizmiz, officials told Efe, where around half of the houses have been damaged or destroyed.

Some 1,500 were expected to be evacuated on Wednesday, before a further 1,500 later this week, until all of those affected have been given shelter.

In remote towns in the mountains near Amizmiz, villagers have already been re-housed in tents and are no longer sleeping outside, according to a local resident.

From Tnirt, a village on top of a 1,692-meter-high mountain just 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the epicenter of the quake, one of the inhabitants, Kamal, explained to Efe by telephone that all of the village’s residents have been re-housed in tents and there are no longer any bodies among the rubble, after the body of a girl was pulled out Tuesday.

“Trucks with tents arrived in the village of Azgour (about 6 kilometers from Tnirt) and distributed them to the affected people in the villages in the area,” Kamal said, adding that food aid was still arriving in the area.

“We don’t want to leave our homes and our lives here,” he said.

In nearby Asni, the army has opened a field hospital next to a camp for displaced people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the earthquake.

The medical official in charge of the field hospital told Efe that it is the only one set up by the military following the disaster, and that around 1,000 people had been treated there since it was opened on Monday.

“It offers medical and surgical care,” said Yusef Qamus, who says that the most serious cases or those who need certain types of tests are sent to hospitals in Marrakech, about 50 kilometers away, on a road that until Tuesday was still not cleared.

Qamus added that a team was providing psychosocial support, especially to the elderly and children.

“Some children and old people need psychological support because they need help to overcome the situation and the trauma caused by the earthquake,” he said.

Numerous countries have offered assistance to Morocco after the earthquake, but the authorities have only accepted help from Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. EFE


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