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Morocco earthquake death toll nears 2,500 as nation mobilizes in rescue efforts

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The city of Marrakech witnessed heart-wrenching scenes as hundreds of citizens queued for hours under the sweltering sun outside a local blood bank on Monday. Their resolve to assist their stricken nation remained unwavering in the wake of a devastating earthquake that shook Morocco on Friday night.

As of Monday morning, the death toll had tragically surged to 2,497, with a staggering 2,476 individuals reported injured, as confirmed by the Moroccan Interior Ministry.

The seismic shock, a formidable 6.8 magnitude temblor, struck the region of al-Houz, which had never before experienced such a catastrophic event. The United Nations estimated that approximately 300,000 people had been affected by this natural disaster, further exposing the region’s lack of preparedness.

Over the weekend, harrowing videos emerged, portraying both the extensive devastation caused by the earthquake and the chaotic moments immediately following the disaster in this North African nation.

The frenzied race to locate survivors continued relentlessly, while countless others began the somber task of mourning their loved ones. Hamid Ben Henna, recounting his personal tragedy, stated, “We were having dinner. I asked my son to bring a knife from the kitchen to cut the dessert, but he never did because as soon as he left the kitchen, the earthquake struck. He was buried in six feet of rubble.”

The most severe destruction occurred in the picturesque High Atlas Mountains, where winding dirt roads lead to snow-capped peaks. Numerous passes have become impassable due to rockslides, impeding access to those trapped beneath the wreckage of their homes. While some may still be rescued, many others await discovery and a proper farewell.

Helen Gallagher, an immigrant who now calls Turkey home, expressed the profound shock and devastation felt by the community, stating, “We just couldn’t ever imagine something like this happening here really. It’s just been totally devastating. We’re just in survival mode and trying to get help out to the people who most need it, and we’ll process it afterwards, I suppose.”

In cities like Marrakech, renowned for its historic Casbah and medieval structures that have endured for a millennium, the earthquake has left a trail of destruction. Some of these ancient edifices have crumbled, while others teeter on the brink of collapse, posing an imminent threat to the city’s heritage.

The demand for aid remains pressing and vast. The U.S. Embassy in Morocco reported awareness of a small number of injured Americans but thankfully, no American fatalities as a result of the earthquake.

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