A magnitude 3.9 aftershock rocked Morocco on Sunday, rattling rescue workers and residents whose homes withstood the Friday’s magnitude 6.8 temblor that killed more than 2,000 people and turned ancient towns to rubble.
The United Nations estimated that 300,000 people were affected by the quake, and digging out survivors from crumbled buildings remained the emphasis Sunday.
“There are a lot of blocked roads, a lot of people can’t find their parents and a lot of people are still under the rubble,” Adeeni Mustafa, who lives 30 miles south of Marrakech in the town of Asni, told the BBC. “People are still searching for their relatives. Everything came down on them, the mountains, their homes.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent said it had immediately released $1.1 million to support the Moroccan Red Crescent emergency response. President Joe Biden promised U.S. assistance, although most international aid crews were on hold awaiting formal requests for assistance from the Moroccan government.
“We know there is a great urgency to save people and dig under the remains of buildings,” said Arnaud Fraisse, founder of Rescuers Without Borders, who was on hold in Paris waiting for approval to enter Morocco. “There are people dying under the rubble, and we cannot do anything to save them.”
∎Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant pledged Israel’s assistance “as much as is required.” The two countries have improved ties in recent months, and Morocco’s Senate president was scheduled to be one of the few Muslim leaders ever to visit Israel’s parliament.
∎Morocco’s King Mohammed VI declared three days of mourning.
Morocco earthquake updates:Morocco earthquake updates: Photos show devastating aftermath; death toll surpasses 2,000
The epicenter of Friday’s quake was about 40 miles south of Marrakech, a city of 1 million people and the heart of Morocco’s tourist industry. Part of a mosque tower in Jemaa el-Fnaa square in Marrakesh’s Old City collapsed, causing injuries and damage to property nearby. The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said it sent a mission to the Marrakesh area to help local authorities inventory damage to cultural and educational sites, to help make building safer and to prepare for reconstruction.
“All my support to the Moroccan people after this terrible earthquake that has claimed so many victims and caused so much damage,” said UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay.
Contributing: The Associated Press