The aftermath of a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco on Friday continues to unfold as rescuers intensify their efforts to locate survivors amidst the widespread destruction. The official death toll has surpassed 2,100, and authorities fear it will climb even higher. The most severe devastation has been witnessed in remote mountainous regions, posing significant challenges for rescue teams trying to access affected areas. Distressed residents have reported extensive damage in entire villages, with rescuers struggling to extract bodies trapped under rubble.
In the city of Marrakech, the closest major urban center to the earthquake's epicenter, a sense of unease has gripped the populace. Many residents opted to spend a second night sleeping outdoors, hesitating to return to their homes out of fear of aftershocks. The disaster has also left its mark on historic sites in Marrakech, a renowned tourist destination, adding to the already substantial human toll. In response to the tragedy, Morocco's King Mohammed VI declared a period of mourning lasting three days. He further issued a directive for mosques across the country to hold funeral prayers on Sunday in memory of the earthquake's victims.
Amidst this ongoing crisis, two Cypriot nationals, who were in Morocco at the time the deadly earthquake struck on Friday night, flew from Marrakech to Athens on Sunday morning, on a special evacuation flight of Aegean Airlines. The flight was arranged by Greek authorities in coordination with the airline, while the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Cypriot consular authorities of the possibility, in order for Cypriot nationals who wanted to leave the country, to also board the plane. The two Cypriot women arrived in Athens and are expected to depart for Larnaca on Monday evening.
Meanwhile, Morocco announced on Sunday evening that it had responded favorably, "at this stage", to offers from four countries "to send search and rescue teams" from Spain, Great Britain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
[With information from CNN, African News]