A devastating earthquake has left more than 2,400 dead and thousands injured in Morocco, prompting international aid efforts and a response from Christian groups Convoy of Hope and Operation Rescue, among others.
The epicenter of the 6.8-magnitude quake was in the High Atlas mountains, about 45 miles southwest of Marrakech, making it the strongest earthquake to hit Morocco in 120 years, according to media reports.
Many fatalities are in hard-to-reach areas south of Marrakech, Sky News reported, adding that there are fears one such town could record 2,000 deaths alone. As of early Monday, the official toll stood at 2,497 confirmed dead and at least 2,059 people injured, including 1,404 seriously hurt.
Convoy of Hope is mobilizing to provide essential resources to the affected areas, according to its press release, which says the organization aims to deliver food, water, hygiene supplies, shelter, blankets, and generators to survivors.
Moroccans will face many challenges in the coming weeks and months, the Christian group warned. “The sudden loss of consistent electricity, clean water, and shelter exacerbate an already devastating situation.”
Operation Blessing is also deploying members of its International Disaster Relief team to Morocco to aid in the relief efforts following the deadly earthquake.
In an emailed statement to The Christian Post on Monday, Operation Blessing said its director of International Disaster Relief, Diego Traverso, will join team members from Spain and Virginia Beach to distribute relief supplies, including solar-powered lights and water filtration equipment, and to help with immediate needs.
The organization was among the Christian humanitarian aid organizations — including Samaritan's Purse — that helped with recovery efforts in Turkey after the country experienced an earthquake in February and is continuing to assist Floridians impacted by Hurricane Idalia. The organization said it's also keeping track of Hurricane Lee, which is expected to impact the East Coast later this week.
Many other international rescue teams are heading to Morocco, with Spain, Britain, France and Turkey offering support, as well as the United Nations, The U.K. Times reported.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, discussing how the U.S. could best support Morocco’s humanitarian response, the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, wrote on Facebook Sunday that even though Morocco had not yet asked other countries for assistance, there was much Christians could do through the power of prayer. Please join me in praying for the people of Morocco and their first responders in the wake of this disaster.”
Caroline Holt, the global operations director for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the full scope of the disaster might not be clear for several days.
“The nature of an earthquake, of course, is that it does break the roads, it breaks communications, it breaks the electricity lines, it breaks the waterlines,” she was quoted as saying. “In short, we don’t know the full extent of this yet because we don’t know until we reach those people.”
Morocco’s Ministry of Education reported the death of seven teachers and injuries to 39 others. A total of 530 schools have been damaged, mainly in the regions of Al Haouz, Chichaoua and Taroudant, the ministry said in a statement, according to Sky News. Schooling has been suspended in the most affected areas.
Morocco has declared three days of national mourning, and the national flag will fly at half-mast throughout the country.
The national football team also called off an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Liberia, with players and staff donating blood instead.
Rescue operations are hampered by the remote and mountainous terrain, with dislodged boulders blocking roads. In the village of Amizmiz, 35 miles southwest of Marrakesh, rescue workers were picking through rubble with their bare hands in search of survivors, according to social media reports.
Residents and tourists in Marrakesh described tense atmospheres and fears of aftershocks.
Mina El Jerti, a housekeeper, was quoted as saying that families spent the night in the street, fearing the collapse of additional buildings. Tourists in Jemaa el-Fna square felt the ground move beneath them as walls began to crumble.
Morocco had been enjoying a resurgence of international tourism, with about 6.5 million people visiting in the first six months of this year. The earthquake has severely impacted Marrakesh’s Medina, a UNESCO world heritage site, with many low-rise buildings collapsing.
Officials said authorities were working to clear roads for ambulances and aid trucks. The military had also deployed aircraft, helicopters and drones to assist in the rescue and relief efforts.
Courtesy of The Christian Post.