Search and rescue teams in Morocco are racing the clock in a desperate attempt to reach survivors buried underneath the rubble after last Friday’s 6.8-magitude earthquake.
The death toll reached 2,681 by late Monday, with more than 2,500 people injured and thousands more still missing.
The earthquake struck the area southwest of Marrakesh at 11:11 pm Friday night local time, with the epicenter 44 miles southwest of Marrakesh, Morocco’s fourth-largest city, at a depth of 11.5 miles.
The ancient Jewish Quarter in Marrakesh sustained severe damage, as did two historic synagogues in the Quarter, including one founded in 1492 by Sephardic Jews fleeing the Inquisition.
Close to a dozen nations from around the world have offered their assistance — including the State of Israel — but Morocco has politely declined thus far.
An advance team from the international United Hatzalah emergency medical and rescue organization has been active in the quake-shattered country since early Sunday morning.
Our team in Morocco left Marrakech earlier today and headed up to the mountain villages in the region of Tizi Ouaddou where rescue teams haven't reached yet. They found devastation but also a lot of resilient and strong people. #MoroccoEarthquake #UnityInAction #AngelsinOrange pic.twitter.com/B9Y4zstEG9
— United Hatzalah (@UnitedHatzalah) September 10, 2023
The UH volunteers have been working in Tizi Ouaddou, a village in the southwest of the country in the mountains, closer to the epicenter of the quake, according to United Hatzalah spokesperson Raphi Poch.
“Our team has been working mainly in outlying villages where other agencies haven’t gotten to yet,” Poch said.
The deployment came in response to numerous requests for assistance from the local Jewish community in Morocco, as well as from UH volunteers who were present in the country at the time.
The UH teams is conducting a situation assessment and connecting with local resources and government agencies to determine what kind of assistance is needed, according to UH Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel.