Death toll nears 3,000 in Morocco after magnitude 6.8 earthquake destroys villages

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Video from the Moroccan village of Moulay Brahim shows an earthquake survivor being pulled from the rubble of a building and rescuers celebrating the successful recovery. (Video credit: Al Maghribia Al Yaoum via Storyful)

MARRAKECH, Morocco – Hope is dimming in Morocco as search teams continue to scour the rubble for survivors and victims four days after a monster 6.8 earthquake destroyed dozens of buildings in the mountainous region southwest of Marrakech.

The powerful earthquake rocked the African nation on Friday at 11:11 p.m. local time when many residents were at home or asleep. As of Tuesday, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces reports 2,901 people have died from the quake, and more than 5,500 are injured. The earthquake is the deadliest for western Morocco since the 5.8 magnitude quake in 1960, which claimed the lives of up to 15,000 people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS reports the strongest earthquake was recorded near the rural town of Oukaïmedene, which includes many residences not built to withstand an earthquake. 

Despite the dangerous conditions, rescuers are still pulling victims from the rubble days after the deadly earthquake. Video from Moulay Brahim shows a team pulling an injured person from a crumbled building and rescuers embracing after successfully finding the person alive. 

Video recorded by Royal Moroccan Armed Forces airborne relief operations shows the extensive damages from the earthquake and recovery operations in Morocco. 

The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces have set up a field hospital and are airlifting patients out of the region for critical care. 

Hundreds of families have been displaced in the Al-Haouz region. The Moroccan Civil Defense Institution is providing food, clothing and shelter near the earthquake epicenter where a tent city has been established to house displaced survivors. 

The World Health Organization estimates the earthquake impacted more than 30,000 people in Marrakech and surrounding areas.

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    A volunteer reacts amid the rubble of destroyed houses in the village of Douzrou on September 12, 2023 following a 6.8-magnitude quake. Hopes dimmed in Morocco’s search for survivors, four days after a powerful earthquake killed more than 2,800 people, most of them in remote villages of the High Atlas Mountains. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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  • A woman carries a child over rubble from damaged buildings following yesterday's earthquake, on September 10, 2023 in Moulay Brahim, Morocco.

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    A woman carries a child over rubble from damaged buildings following yesterday’s earthquake, on September 10, 2023 in Moulay Brahim, Morocco. A huge earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale has hit central Morocco. Whilst the epicentre was in a sparsely populated area of the High Atlas Mountains, its effects have been felt 71km away in Marrakesh, a major tourist destination, where many buildings have collapsed and thousands of deaths have been reported. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
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    TOPSHOT – The minaret of a mosque stands behind damaged or destroyed houses following an earthquake in Moulay Brahim, Al-Haouz province, on September 9, 2023. Morocco’s deadliest earthquake in decades has killed at least 1000 people, officials said on September 9, causing widespread damage and sending terrified residents and tourists scrambling to safety in the middle of the night. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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    MARRAKESH, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 9: Search and Rescue team operations continues at Moulay Brahim region after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Abu Adem Muhammed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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    MARRAKESH, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 9: Search and Rescue team operations continues at Moulay Brahim region after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Abu Adem Muhammed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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    MARRAKESH, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 9: A view of a destroyed building after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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    MARRAKESH, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 9: A view of a destroyed building after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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  • Moroccan Civil Defense Institution distribute relief materials to earthquake survivors at the tent city after 7 magnitude earthquake in Al-Haouz region, Marrakesh, Morocco on September 12, 2023.

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    Moroccan Civil Defense Institution distribute relief materials to earthquake survivors at the tent city after 7 magnitude earthquake in Al-Haouz region, Marrakesh, Morocco on September 12, 2023. 250 families whose houses were heavily damaged or destroyed are staying in the tent city established in the region close to Al-Haouz, the epicenter of the earthquake. The Moroccan Civil Defense Institution provides shelter, clothing and food support to earthquake survivors in the tent cities it established in the earthquake zone. (Photo by Abu Adem Muhammed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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  • Earthquake in Morocco

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    MARRAKESH, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 9: Search and Rescue team operations continues at Moulay Brahim region after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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    09 September 2023, Morocco, Marrakesh: People inspect damages in Marrakesh following the powerful earthquake that struck Morocco. (Best Quality Available) Photo: Khadija Benabbou/dpa (Photo by Khadija Benabbou/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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    MARRAKESH, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 9: A view of a man on rubble after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 296 people were killed and 153 sustained injuries following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Said Echarif/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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    TOPSHOT – Residents stay out at a square in Marrakesh on September 9, 2023, after an earthquake. A powerful earthquake that struck Morocco on September 8 night has killed at least 632 people and injured 329 others, according to an updated interior ministry toll. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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    TOPSHOT – A woman looks at the rubble of a building in the earthquake-damaged old city in Marrakesh on September 9, 2023. A powerful earthquake that shook Morocco late September 8 killed more than 600 people, interior ministry figures showed, sending terrified residents fleeing their homes in the middle of the night. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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    A resident navigates through the rubble following a 6.8-magnitude quake in Marrakesh on September 9, 2023. A powerful earthquake that shook Morocco late September 8 killed more than 600 people, interior ministry figures showed, sending terrified residents fleeing their homes in the middle of the night. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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    A woman reacts standing infront of her earthquake-damaged house in the old city in Marrakesh on September 9, 2023. A powerful earthquake that shook Morocco late September 8 killed more than 600 people, interior ministry figures showed, sending terrified residents fleeing their homes in the middle of the night. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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    A woman evacuates with her belongings through the rubble in the earthquake-damaged old city of Marrakesh on September 9, 2023. A powerful earthquake that shook Morocco late September 8 killed more than 600 people, interior ministry figures showed, sending terrified residents fleeing their homes in the middle of the night. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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  • Over 800 killed in powerful quake in Morocco

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    MARRAKESH, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 9: A view of rubble after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Abu Adem Muhammed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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  • Over 800 killed in powerful quake in Morocco

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    MARRAKESH, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 9: A view of rubble after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Abu Adem Muhammed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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  • Over 800 killed in powerful quake in Morocco

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    MARRAKESH, MOROCCO – SEPTEMBER 9: A view of a destroyed building after a 7 magnitude earthquake in Marrakesh, Morocco on September 9, 2023. At least 820 people were killed and 672 others injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday. (Photo by Said Echarif/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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  • Over 800 killed in powerful quake in Morocco

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    Rescue workers search for survivors in a collapsed house in Moulay Brahim, Al Haouz province, on September 9, 2023, after an earthquake. Morocco’s deadliest earthquake in decades has killed at least 820 people, officials said on September 9, causing widespread damage and sending terrified residents and tourists scrambling to safety in the middle of the night. (Photo by Fadel SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
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  • Morocco earthquake relief efforts ‘still evolving’ and ‘extemely complex’

    Teams with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are responding to the disaster area. Moroccan Red Crescent (MRCS) teams are providing first aid, and psychosocial support and helping transport the injured to hospitals, according to the IFRC. More than 230 volunteers with the Moroccan Red Crescent are helping with relief efforts and blood donations across multiple provinces. 

    Help from other nations has been offered, however, Morocco has only accepted help from Spain, Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, reports Reuters. Officials in Italy, Belgium, France and Germany said their offers for assistance had not been approved yet by the Moroccan government. 

    The delayed acceptance has left some rescue groups in Europe perplexed. 

    During a United Nations update on Tuesday, IFRC Global Director of Operations Caroline Holt offered thoughts on why help from some countries had not yet been accepted. 

    “I think coordination and careful consideration at this moment in time is key and that is what I see, and that is what I understand is happening with the Moroccan authorities,” Holt said. “We know that this is extremely complex, accessing these hard-to-reach areas. The needs are still evolving, and probably, the full picture is probably unclear at this moment.”

    Some of the worst affected areas are in remote and mountainous areas, making the region difficult to reach. Video from the Armed Forces shows teams hiking up steep terrain to reach the disaster area. 

    “The Moroccan government is taking careful steps with regard to opening up, accepting bilateral offers of support from government and really as we’ve seen focusing on that search and rescue window before that window unfortunately closes in the coming hours,” Holt said. 

    On Tuesday, the IFRC launched an emergency appeal for 100 million Swiss Francs to scale up relief efforts of the Moroccan Red Crescent. Within 24 hours of the quake, the IFRC approved 1 million Swiss Francs from the Disaster Response Emergency Fund.

    An estimated 6,000 people have died within the span of a week from natural disasters in North Africa. Flooding from Storm Daniel in Libya has claimed the lives of about 3,000 people with thousands still missing.  

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