British rescue teams arrive in Morocco after earthquake kills thousands

Britain has sent around 60 search teams to the rural mountainside region, after the strongest earthquake to hit Morocco in over a century has killed thousands.

As British search and rescue teams arrive in Morocco, ITV’s Good Morning Britain reports from town Moulay Brahim, which has been destroyed by the earthquake

Some 2,122 people have died in the strongest earthquake to hit Morocco in over a century, with the death toll continuing to rise.

The devastating 6.8 magnitude quake hit the rural Al Haouz region on Friday, 44 miles south of Marrakesh, killing 1,351 in the area alone.

Rescuers from Morocco, Spain, aid groups, and 60 teams from the UK are desperately searching for survivors.

They are expected to find more casualties as they reach the hard-hit remote mountain areas today.

As of Sunday night at least 2,421 people were injured – 1,404 of them critically, the Interior Ministry reported.

The earthquake and several aftershocks have destroyed the clay and mud brick built villages, reducing them to rubble.

Those who survived the tremors are waiting for food, water and electricity, as giant boulders now block steep mountain roads.

A man walks in the rubble in front of a damaged mosque in Moulay Brahim. / Credit: AP

Residents like 72-year-old mountain guide, Hamid Idsalah said: “I can’t reconstruct my home. I don’t know what I’ll do. Still, I’m alive so I’ll wait.”

The Ouargane Valley resident, relies on Moroccan and foreign tourists who visit the region due to its proximity to Marrakech and Toubkal – North Africa’s tallest peak which is a destination for climbers.

Morocco has deployed ambulances, rescue crews and soldiers to the region to assist with emergency response efforts.

Aid groups said the government has not made a broad appeal for help and accepted only limited foreign assistance.

Spanish emergency search and rescue unit board a plane to help with the earthquake rescue in Morocco. / Credit: AP

The Interior Ministry said it was accepting search and rescue-focused international aid from Spain, Qatar, Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

It says it bypassed offers from French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden.

“We stand ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people,” Biden said Sunday on a trip to Vietnam.

Friday’s earthquake was Morocco’s strongest in over a century, but, though such powerful tremors are rare, it is not the country’s deadliest.

Just over 60 years ago, it was rocked by a magnitude-5.8 quake that killed over 12,000 people on its western coast, where the city of Agadir, southwest of Marrakech, crumbled.

That quake prompted changes in construction rules in Morocco, but many buildings, especially rural homes, are not built to withstand such tremors.

There had not been any earthquakes stronger than magnitude 6.0 within 310 miles of Friday’s tremor in at least a century, according to the US Geological Survey.

Northern Morocco experiences earthquakes more often, including tremors of magnitude 6.4 in 2004 and magnitude 6.3 in 2016.

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