Survivors of the deadliest earthquake to hit Morocco in sixty years have told of the horror of living next to corpses still submerged under collapsed houses, which four days after the disaster begin to rot.
Aziz, a villager from Ijoukak, 10 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter, said: “So far we have found no survivors, only the dead buried under the rubble… the smell of the corpses is very, very strong.” “We still don’t have electricity or water.”
The death toll has now surpassed 2,800 and is expected to rise further as hopes fade of exposing those still trapped under piles of rubble following Friday’s 6.8 magnitude earthquake. .
Desperate villagers still waiting for help in the hardest-hit regions of the Atlas Mountains reported being left to search for survivors themselves, digging with their bare hands to pull the bodies of their neighbors and loved ones from the rubble.
After the fourth night that many Moroccans slept outdoors on Monday, either in makeshift tents or under the stars in rural areas and on the streets of Marrakech, many wake up today still waiting for help.
A victim covered in a sheet is carried to a newly dug makeshift grave in Talat N’yakoub
Desperate villagers still waiting for help in the hardest-hit regions of the Atlas Mountains reported being left to search for survivors themselves.
A victim is carried away by rescuers in Talat N’yakoub, Morocco
A group of men carry the body of a local man who died in the earthquake to place it in a freshly dug grave.
Because houses in villages affected by earthquakes in the High Atlas Mountains are often made of mud bricks, stone and clay, it is often more difficult for people to survive in them than in modern buildings destroyed by earthquakes.
“When all that collapses, you don’t have much chance of surviving, because there are no air pockets,” said Rescues Without Borders founder Arnaud Fraisse.
“People usually suffocate on dust.”
Abdelqader Tarfay, secretary general of Morocco’s National Health Union, said the biggest challenge for doctors and rescue teams remains getting trapped people out.
“Then they will have to work to remove the bodies left under the rubble so they don’t rot,” he said. Al Jazeera.
Homes, mosques and schools have been decimated, and a religious teacher in the village of Tafeghaghte claimed that 22 of his students had been killed.
Some residents in the hardest-hit mountain regions criticized the government’s relief efforts, saying that while other communities had received assistance, they were left to fend for themselves.
Said Hartattouch said it was understandable why some communities received state assistance while others did not, given the enormity of the destruction that has killed more than 2,800 people.
Remote villages in the areas around Ijoukak are still not accessible, The Guardian reports, with “huge boulders blocking the roads.”
‘The problem with the Atlas Mountains is that it is big… ‘It is not possible to help everyone.’
The 34-year-old was working in Marrakech when the 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck.
The moment the ground began to shake, he ran to his family’s village more than 60 miles away in the High Atlas Mountains, eager to reach his mother and two sisters.
Moroccan rescuers remove a body from the rubble in the village of Talat N’Yacoub, Al Haouz province.
Said Hartattouch, 34, was working in Marrakech when the 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit.
Women react as they walk through the rubble of the village of Imoulas, in Taroudant province.
When he arrived several hours later, his childhood home was in ruins.
Speaking outside the rubble of the dirt and straw house, Hartattouch said that in the days after the earthquake he had sometimes felt as if he were in a horrible dream.
“But then you wake up the next day and you’re faced with reality,” he said.
While Hartattouch’s mother and sisters survived, fifteen other people from the nearby community of about 100 people died.
Among them was his uncle, who was buried by a collapsing wall after fleeing his home, and a close family friend who lived in the house next door.
The town of Tinmel is in a state of devastation. Houses have been flattened and the historic 12th century mosque that stands at the edge of the village and attracted tourists from all over the world is now in ruins.
Recounting his return to the village, delayed by a road blocked by a landslide, Hartattouch described a struggle inside his destroyed family home to collect blankets and his mother’s insulin.
A Moroccan soldier comforts a man sitting on the ruins of a house in the mountainous area of Tizi N’Test
People wait as emergency personnel open a road to their village in the mountainous area of Tizi N’Test in Taroudant province.
Family members hold a woman as she is overcome with grief as her husband’s body is pulled from under a collapsed house.
An excavator digs through the rubble of collapsed buildings on September 11, 2023 in Douz
Boxes of humanitarian aid prepared to be sent to earthquake-hit Morocco following the deadly earthquake
With nowhere to go, villagers have been sleeping outdoors since Friday’s earthquake.
Residents say the village has received little help from the government and instead relied on charitable donations. The mother of a 15-day-old baby said the child needed formula and medication.
There is an urgent need for tents to protect people from falling temperatures at night.
“It’s the beginning of the cold, the first day was very hard,” Hartattouch said.