International

Morocco Earthquake: Death Toll Reaches 2122, Support Pours In From World

The Dalai Lama has written to Morocco's Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch expressing his sorrow at the loss of lives caused by an earthquake in that country and also offered to make donations towards the rescue and relief operations being conducted.

Morocco Earthquake
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The devastating earthquake that hit Morocco on September 8 has taken the lives of 2,122 as of yet. The rescue and relief operations are still underway to dig out both alive and dead people from under the rubble. 

The region south of Marrakech, where the magnitude 6.8 earthquake Friday night and numerous aftershocks occurred earlier in the evening, has been visited by police officers and aid workers from both Morocco and abroad.  People are waiting for food, water, and electricity, and the steep mountain roads are now blocked by huge boulders. The Interior Ministry said it was accepting search and rescue-focused international aid from Spain, Qatar, Britain and the United Arab Emirates, bypassing offers from French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden.

Dalai Lama offered assistance to Morocco

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has written to Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch expressing grief at the loss of lives caused by an earthquake in the country.

In his letter, the Dalai Lama said he has asked the Gaden Phodrang Foundation of the Dalai Lama to make a donation towards the rescue and relief efforts in Morocco.

"I offer my condolences to Your Excellency, the families of those who have lost loved ones and pray for all those affected by this great tragedy. I am aware that your government is doing everything it can to provide support to help the rescue and relief efforts in the quake zones," he said.

"It is also heartening that the international community is sending aid following the earthquake. As a token of my solidarity with the people of Morocco affected by this tragedy, I have asked the Gaden Phodrang Foundation of the Dalai Lama to make a donation towards the rescue and relief efforts," he added. 

United States

 In response to the need for an assessment of the situation, finding out what is missing in humanitarian assistance and working with the Government of Morocco on further support, the USA has sent a modest team of disaster experts to Morocco. According to reports, a team from the US reached Morocco on Sunday. “We stand ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people," Biden said Sunday on a trip to Vietnam.

Britain

According to reports, a team of 60 search and rescue specialists, 4 dogs along with a four-person medical assessment team were sent from Britain on Sunday. 

Spain

Reportedly, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares has promised to send search and rescue teams with aid to Morocco and further an army division that specialises in rescue missions is preparing for its deployment in the earthquake-stricken country. 

France

Despite their complicated relationship, France's foreign minister Catherine Colonna reportedly said, "We are ready to help Morocco. It's a sovereign Moroccan decision and it's up to them to decide." She also said that for nongovernmental organisations operating in Morocco, the French government provided 5 million euros.

Most affected areas in Morocco 

The epicenter was high in the Atlas Mountains about 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Marrakech in Al Haouz province. The region is largely rural, made up of red-rock mountains, picturesque gorges and glistening streams and lakes. 

For residents like Hamid Idsalah, a 72-year-old mountain guide from the Ouargane Valley, it is unclear what the future holds. Idsalah relies on Moroccan and foreign tourists who visit the region due to its proximity to both Marrakech and Toubkal, North Africa's tallest peak and a destination for hikers and climbers. “I can't reconstruct my home. I don't know what I'll do. Still, I'm alive so I'll wait,” he said as rescue teams traversed the unpaved road through the valley for the first time this weekend.

The earthquake shook most of Morocco and caused injury and death in other provinces, including Marrakech, Taroudant and Chichaoua.

Out of the total death toll so far, 1,351 were in Al Haouz, a region with a population greater than 570,00, according to Morocco's 2014 census.In the largely rural region, where people speak a combination of Arabic and Tachelhit, Morroco's most common Indigenous language, villages of clay and mud brick built into mountainsides have been destroyed.

Though tourism contributes to the economy, the province is largely agrarian. And like much of North Africa, before the earthquake Al Haouz was reckoning with record drought that dried rivers and lakes, imperiling the largely agricultural economy and way of life.

Outside a destroyed mosque in the town of Amizmiz, Abdelkadir Smana said the disaster would compound existing struggles in the area, which had reckoned with the coronavirus in addition to the drought.

“Before and now, it's the same,” said the 85-year-old. “There wasn't work or much at all.”

(With AP inputs)

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