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Scale of disaster on stark display as Morocco's remote villages are progressively reached

A child reacts after inspecting the damage caused by the earthquake, in her town of Amizmiz, near Marrakech, Morocco, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023.   -  
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Mosa'ab Elshamy/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


As remote Moroccan villages are reached by the outside world, the extent of the devastation is becoming  apparent.

In this mountain village of Imi N'Tala at least 70 people are dead.

Friday's earthquake — the strongest in the Kingdom in over a century — killed more than 2,800 people.

Most of the destruction and deaths were in Al Haouz province in the High Atlas Mountains, where steep and winding  roads became clogged with rubble leaving villagers to fend for themselves.

"We feel completely abandoned here, no one has come to help us," resident Khadija Aitlkyd said. Our houses have collapsed and we have nowhere to go. Where are all these poor people going to live?"

"The people who came to dig were villagers, young people, old people, and other young people from neighboring villages came to help, they dug with simple hand tools," Lehbib Aitlkyd recalls.

So far, Moroccan officials have coordinated emergency response plans with approved non-governmental organizations and four countries — Spain, Qatar, Britain and the United Arab Emirates. Officials say they want to avoid a lack of coordination that "would be counterproductive."

That approach differs from the one taken by the government in Turkey, which made an international appeal for help in the hours following a massive quake earlier this year.

The leader of one of several rescue teams waiting across Europe said Moroccan authorities may remember the chaos that unfolded after a smaller quake in 2004, when international teams overwhelmed the airport and the damaged roads into the hardest hit areas.

Emergency response plan

The UN has been assessing the impact of the disaster on some of the most vulnerable - the children. UNICEF estimates about 100,000 of them have been affected.

Like all major earthquakes, aftershocks are likely to continue in the days and weeks ahead, putting children and families at further risk.

Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch gave Monday (Sep. 11) his first public remarks since the earthquake after meeting with King Mohammed VI.

The PM said the North African country was committed to funding rebuilding and compensating those affected.

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