Families in Marrakesh opt for sleeping outdoors for second night following Morocco earthquake
- The death toll from the earthquake in Morocco has exceeded 2,000.
- After their homes were damaged, many people spent two nights sleeping outdoors.
- This earthquake is the most severe to hit Morocco since 1960, and even parts of Marrakesh’s historical medina have been affected.
MARRAKESH – Families in Marrakesh found themselves huddled on the streets through the early hours of Sunday, for the second consecutive night, fearing that their homes were no longer safe to return to after experiencing Morocco’s deadliest earthquake in over fifty years.
Uncertainty plagued the minds of many in Marrakesh, located 70km northeast of the epicenter, as they worried about the condition of their homes following the earthquake that has claimed the lives of over 2,000 individuals. They also feared that an aftershock could potentially destroy their homes in the coming hours or days.
Sleeping on the streets near the city’s historic medina, Mouhamad Ayat Elhaj, aged 51, and his family have been unable to sleep in their own home. They noticed signs of damage, including cracks in the walls.
A woman breaks down in front of her earthquake-damaged house in the old city of Marrakesh on September 9, 2023.
Moroccan Royal Armed Forces evacuate a body from a house destroyed by the earthquake in the mountain village of Tafeghaghte, southwest of Marrakesh, on September 9, 2023.
“I cannot sleep there. I am asking the authorities to assist me and bring in an expert to assess whether it is safe for me to return to the house or not. If there is any risk, I will not go back,” he told Reuters.
In various parts of Morocco, people spent Friday night outdoors due to the earthquake. By Saturday, the death toll had risen to 2,012, with an additional 2,059 individuals injured, according to the Ministry of Interior.
Sections of Marrakesh’s historic medina, a popular tourist attraction for both Moroccans and foreigners, sustained damage from the earthquake. On Saturday, Moroccans and foreigners alike wandered through the ancient city, capturing images of the destruction and dining at popular eateries, while others gathered to sleep in the main square.
Noureddine Lahbabi, a retired 68-year-old with four children, preparing to spend his second night outside, expressed his distress over the damage inflicted upon people’s homes.
“It’s a painful experience. When it happens to someone you know, it’s truly agonizing,” he said.
Mohamed Aithadi, a Moroccan-American, surveyed the damage to a mosque in the medina on Saturday, located near where his mother resides. He had been in the medina’s main square when the earthquake struck. On Saturday, he urged Moroccans to take care of the most vulnerable individuals.
People rescue a donkey trapped under rubble after the earthquake in the mountain village of Tafeghaghte, southwest of Marrakesh, on September 9, 2023.
“I am confident that our people, the Moroccan people, and our Moroccan community can come together and overcome this situation safely and peacefully,” he said.
Away from the medina, families were forced to sleep in open areas and along roads. Eleven-year-old Jowra, speaking alongside her father, expressed uneasiness about having to sleep near strangers.