Morocco Earthquake Claims Over 2,500 Lives, With Death Toll Expected to Rise

We get an replace from Morocco, which has declared three days of mourning after the strongest earthquake to hit the area in not less than a century. About 2,500 folks died within the 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the nation on Friday, with one other 2,500 injured and the dying toll anticipated to rise. The epicenter was within the Excessive Atlas Mountains situated about 44 miles from Marrakech, the place many villages stay largely inaccessible and lack each electrical energy and working water. The earthquake additionally broken components of Marrakech, together with its outdated metropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Web site. We communicate with Moroccan students Abdellah El Haloui, in Marrakech, the place he’s head of the English Division at Cadi Ayyad College, and Brahim El Guabli, affiliate professor of Arabic research at Williams Faculty, initially from Ouarzazate, Morocco, which was hit by the earthquake.


This can be a rush transcript. Copy is probably not in its remaining kind.

AMY GOODMAN: Western Saharan musician Najm Allal. Algeria, which broke off ties with Morocco in 2021 after escalating tensions between the 2 nations targeted on the Western Sahara battle, stated after the earthquake this weekend it could open airspace for humanitarian and medical flights.

That is Democracy Now!,, The Struggle and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman in New York, joined by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González in Chicago. Hello, Juan.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Hello, Amy. And welcome to all of our listeners and viewers throughout the nation and around the globe.

AMY GOODMAN: No less than 2,500 folks have died in Morocco following a 6.8-magnitude earthquake Friday evening. One other 2,500 folks have been injured. The dying toll is anticipated to maintain rising. The epicenter of the 6.8-magnitude earthquake was within the Excessive Atlas Mountains, situated about 44 miles from Marrakech. Many villages stay inaccessible. Some areas can solely be reached by helicopter. The toughest-hit areas are among the many poorest in Morocco, the place many properties lack electrical energy or working water. The earthquake additionally broken components of Marrakech, together with its outdated metropolis, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Web site. These are some residents in Marrakech describing what occurred when the quake hit Friday evening.

FATIMA SAMIR: [translated] I dwell on Mellah Road in Medina, the outdated metropolis of Marrakech. The earthquake struck round 11:30 p.m. At the moment, I used to be out buying close to Jemaa el-Fnaa Sq.. I left my son and daughter at dwelling. I used to be terrified once I noticed the homes shaking violently, virtually as if in a nightmare. I rushed again dwelling, gathered our clothes and blankets and ready to sleep exterior. Now we have misplaced 9 folks that I do know of, together with a member of the family and her new child on Sabara Road.

KHALIFA MARZAK: [translated] I don’t know what to say. It was such a shock. We have been sitting right here when this disaster occurred and the wall collapsed. There was a tailor on this store, and he was leaving, and the wall collapsed on him. We bought him out. We didn’t know what fell on him. We didn’t know he was there. Individuals got here and dug to search out him and bought him out.

AMY GOODMAN: Morocco has declared three days of mourning for what’s develop into the deadliest earthquake to hit the nation in over six a long time. On the time of the quake, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI was in Paris, the place he owns a mansion close to the Eiffel Tower. He was returned to Morocco however hasn’t spoken publicly but in regards to the rising humanitarian disaster. The king additionally hasn’t publicly requested worldwide help. Morocco has accepted assist affords from Spain, Britain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, however it has not responded to a suggestion from France.

We’re joined now by two visitors. Brahim El Guabli is chair and affiliate professor of Arabic research at Williams Faculty, writer of Moroccan Different-Archives: Historical past and Citizenship After State Violence. He’s from Ouarzazate, Morocco, which was hit by the earthquake. And becoming a member of us from Marrakech is Abdellah El Haloui, the top of the English Division at Cadi Ayyad College. He’s additionally the director of the Grasp of Linguistics and Superior English Research.

We welcome you each to Democracy Now! Let’s start in Marrakech. Let’s go to Abdellah El Haloui. Are you able to speak in regards to the state of affairs on the bottom proper now?

ABDELLAH EL HALOUI: Thanks very a lot.

The state of affairs on the bottom proper now may be very scary. Individuals are frightened about potential aftershocks. Everyone right here is speaking in regards to the earthquake, and the incident of Friday at 11:11 remains to be hovering. And yeah, it’s very scary. The dying toll is rising. The final quantity I’ve is 2,500. And persons are nonetheless complaining in regards to the lack of meals provides, and their homes are all destroyed, particularly within the mountainous areas.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Professor, you’re becoming a member of us from Marrakech. What occurred? The place have been you when the earthquake hit? How did it have an effect on town? And once more, there are stories that loads of the areas within the rural areas are reduce off from quick assist.

ABDELLAH EL HALOUI: Sure, I’m in Marrakech. I used to be in Marrakech. I used to be at dwelling. And precisely at 11:11 p.m., I used to be sitting in the lounge. And my little child was in entrance of me, and out of sudden, my little child was shouting, “Earthquake! Earthquake!” That was my third expertise with earthquakes, so it was simple for me to acknowledge that it was an earthquake.

We dwell in a excessive constructing, so we needed to run downstairs simply to search out all folks crying and shouting downstairs, not figuring out what occurred precisely. A few of them have been certain that it was an earthquake; others weren’t. However thanks, God, I imply, we didn’t have — we didn’t expertise any deaths in my constructing and in my neighborhood.

My household lives in an space which may be very near the epicenter of the earthquake, and a few of my relations died there. I’m attempting to get in contact with them day by day simply to study their situations, their whereabouts. And, sure, they’re reduce off. They’re complaining as a result of, I imply, they don’t have meals. A few of them must sleep in open air, open house, as a result of their properties are destroyed. So, the state of affairs remains to be scary and really, very problematic.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the way are the native authorities and the federal government responding to the disaster?

ABDELLAH EL HALOUI: I obtain very contradictory tales relying on the areas. In some areas, it appears that evidently the authorities are responding in optimistic methods, attempting to assist the locals with meals provides, with tents, and generally with garments, as effectively, and blankets. However some folks in different areas are complaining in regards to the lack of communication with native authorities. Somebody known as me yesterday saying that they known as their qaid, the gentleman who’s answerable for the realm, just like the mayor of the realm. And the response was that he was on trip and that he couldn’t assist them. So, these are a few of the rumors, adverse rumors, that we hear in regards to the native authorities, however we’re not certain — that’s primary — and the tales are contradictory more often than not.

AMY GOODMAN: I need to carry professor Brahim El Guabli into this dialog from Williams Faculty, although your hometown in Morocco, Ouarzazate, is the epicenter of the earthquake. Additionally, condolences to each of you for what has occurred in your nation, I imply, the dying toll solely anticipated to rise. If you happen to may speak extra about what you’re listening to from household, pals, group in Morocco, but in addition the place is the king? This phrase that we’re listening to of rising anger that the king has been absent. Does he even dwell in Morocco, or does he dwell in France?

BRAHIM EL GUABLI: Properly, Amy, thanks a lot for having me in your present, you recognize, and these are nice questions.

Ouarzazate is a little bit bit faraway from the epicenter of the earthquake. Nevertheless, due to the way in which Moroccan governorates, or provinces, are divided, they do share borders generally. Like, the Excessive Atlas is shared between totally different governorates, and Ouarzazate is one among them. And areas nearer to the epicenter are affected, like the agricultural commune of Télouet, the agricultural commune of Ighrem and in addition Tidili. These are areas which might be nearer to the place the epicenter is, and folks’s homes are broken. And, after all, there’s lack of life within the Ouarzazate space. Nevertheless, town itself and the villages round are type of, like, luckier and safer, even if they skilled the shock and the trauma of such an incredible magnitude that loads of them had by no means skilled earlier than.

In the case of authorities, politics and the place officers are, it’s loads like folks have been saying loads of issues. I can’t actually pin down one. I believe the king lives in Morocco, and I believe that he went to France like just a few days earlier than the earthquake occurred. And folks, after all, have been left with loads of questions on, like, the federal government, the response of the federal government, its immediacy, whether or not it responded urgently and all of that. And these are actually fascinating questions that I don’t have solutions to.

However what I actually suppose is crucial proper now’s for the help and assist and for folks to essentially be on the bottom to assist the households, to consider plans to assist folks rebuild their properties, type of like resume like some type of regular life. And the larger political questions, after all, might be requested later, as a result of I believe they may very well be a diversion if we ask them within the quick now, when persons are nonetheless mourning and persons are nonetheless attempting to simply determine who died, who survived, who remains to be beneath the particles, who has an opportunity at life. And, after all, I wrote a e-book about Moroccan politics and all of that, and I’d be blissful to speak about it one other time, however, for me, now, it’s actually like the main target needs to be on rescuing folks, on getting assist, on ensuring that each salvable life is saved and an opportunity of life is given to the people who find themselves nonetheless struggling beneath the particles.

And, after all, like my colleague Abdellah stated, like, there are such a lot of variations and tales and issues that persons are saying. Like, there are areas which might be flooded with assist. And final evening I used to be speaking to folks within the mountains, like actually far, and so they’re saying there are areas that no one has reached but. They usually suppose our message needs to be that we have now to succeed in these folks. Now we have to ensure that if they’ve even like a fraction of a proportion of risk of life, that they be provided that likelihood to outlive and dwell and live on.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Professor El Guabli, along with the lack of — the tragic lack of life, there are stories that many historic websites in your nation have additionally been broken. Have you ever been in a position to confirm that, or are you able to give us an concept of what meaning?

BRAHIM EL GUABLI: The Excessive Atlas is a extremely necessary historic website in Morocco. It doesn’t simply have labeled historic websites that the state has declared as nationwide patrimony or as nationwide heritage, however it has loads of buildings and constructions which have been necessary for the Moroccan historical past. Like in Télouet, there’s the Kasbah of El Glaoui, for instance, which is a vital nationwide monument. The Mosque of Tinmel, which was destroyed by the earthquake, was constructed within the twelfth century by the — that’s the cradle of the Almohad Empire, that prolonged to Al-Andalus and most of North Africa. There are additionally different smaller homes, the place folks like saints, for instance, just like the Moulay Brahim saint, for instance, that’s a vital religious location in Morocco. The Mosque of Kharbouch in Jemaa el-Fnaa, in Marrakech, for instance, the entire minaret was destroyed. And I’m attempting to trace down some locations which have been destroyed, a few of which I do know the names and significance, others I don’t know. So what I’ve been doing is simply combination this knowledge after which provide you with some writing about it later so that folks find out about it.

And actually, the harm can also be large for the structure within the area. Adobe homes which have been — they’re very eco-friendly forms of buildings with thick partitions. They’re heat within the winter, as a result of the winter may be very harsh within the Atlas Mountains, and they’re cooler in the summertime. So, now I believe, with this earthquake, what we’ll see is a complete reinvention of structure within the space. My hope is that that kind of structure may be strengthened and made earthquake-resilient, relatively than scraping it off fully, as a result of that will be one other method, like, this earthquake goes to vary nationwide heritage and nationwide tradition in Morocco, as well as, after all, to the truth that the vast majority of this space is Amazigh. And I hope that an exodus doesn’t occur, as a result of then folks will transfer into the cities, and they might begin shedding their mom tongue and simply develop into Arabized, which might be a tragedy for one million languages like Tamazight.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Professor Abdellah El Haloui in Marrakech, I imply, the Medina is world-renowned, the UNESCO Heritage Web site. When Democracy Now! was in Marrakech for the U.N. local weather summit, we have been simply amazed on the historical past embodied in these buildings and this space. If you happen to may speak extra, as we wrap up, about what you suppose — what folks want there proper now?

ABDELLAH EL HALOUI: If you happen to permit me simply to return to 1 necessary level in regards to the mountainous space earlier than I reply your query, I want to say that the catastrophe that folks have been present process isn’t solely in regards to the earthquake in itself, however it’s additionally as a result of, I imply, the realm is mountainous and since the large, massive rocks roll down from the highest of the mountain down the valleys. So, lots of the tales that I heard witness to the truth that their homes weren’t destroyed by the earthquake per se, however by the rocks rolling down. So, what’s necessary to say about that is that — about this catastrophe is that it’s not solely in regards to the earthquake. The folks dwelling there are affected by very chilly winters through the wintertime, from floods through the summertime, and now we study that the realm is an earthquake space, which signifies that one other kind of catastrophe is added as much as the record of disasters they’ve been present process. This is essential to notice.

Now, going again to your query about Marrakech itself, I took footage of some actually treasured monuments inside Marrakech, just like the tower of Kharbouch, which is likely one of the oldest prayer towers, mosque towers, in Marrakech, that was completely destroyed. I heard some rumors in regards to the Kutubiyya tower, that it was broken, however that’s not true. I checked the place. I checked the tower, however it was not broken. Marrakech is traditionally well-known for being consultant of a really outdated Amazigh custom in Morocco. And now the truth that, I imply, Marrakech and the areas round it are being affected on this method, there’s all the time this danger of this Amazigh custom being — that it could be undermined, and that this potential exodus of individuals, as a result of that’s a — I imply, so far as I can see, it is going to be a needed consequence of this catastrophe. Due to this, there’s all the time this potential danger of shedding this heritage, linguistic heritage and architectural heritage, as effectively, sadly.

AMY GOODMAN: Properly, I need to thanks each for being with us, Abdellah El Haloui, the top of the English Division at Cadi Ayyad College, additionally the director of the Grasp of Linguistics and Superior English Research, chatting with us from Marrakech, which is about 40 miles from the epicenter within the Atlas Mountains of this earthquake, and Brahim El Guabli, chair, affiliate professor of Arabic research at Williams Faculty. Thanks a lot, each, for becoming a member of us. We’ll proceed to cowl what occurs in Morocco.

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