Moroccan earthquake survivors huddle in tents fearful of the future | ET REALITY


AMIZMIZ, Morocco — It was a moment of devastating coincidence.

Just as Ali’s daughter blew out the candles on her 21st birthday cake, a fault ruptured 11 miles beneath Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains. unleashing forces so violent that the villagers at first did not understand what was happening.

“We were partying,” said Ali, 50. “And as he blew out the candle, a terrible sound started, like that of an extraterrestrial engine. “We couldn’t understand what was happening.”

“In a word, it felt like doomsday,” he said Tuesday, after he and his family managed to escape the house. Many of his friends in the city were not so lucky, he said.

Ali stands in front of the rubble of what used to be the Anmoggar Café in Amizmiz.
Ali stands in front of the rubble of what used to be the Anmoggar Café in Amizmiz.NBC News

He magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck on Friday night, devastated entire towns, killing 2,900 people and countingand bodies are still being pulled from destroyed buildings.

In the tourist city from Amizmiz, 24 kilometers from the epicenter, half an hour earlier Ali was sitting in a cafe with a friend before leaving for his daughter’s birthday celebrations.

The Anmoggar Café, a Berber word meaning “The Gathering”, is now rubble. And for his friend who stayed behind, “it was his last coffee,” Ali said Tuesday, still shaken. four days after the earthquake and refusing to give his last name.

People in this remote, mountainous region are not only recovering from the pain of losing their loved ones and their homes, but now must also deal with the practical challenges ahead.

Food, water, medicine and shelter are an immediate concern, but perhaps more pressing in the long term, given the massive number of homeless people, is an impending winter that will bring low temperatures and a thick blanket of snow on the dramatic peaks and slopes of this country.

Aftermath of the earthquake in Amizmiz, Morocco - September 10, 2023
Dozens of people watch as emergency workers remove the body of a man in the Moroccan village of Amizmiz on September 8. Ximena Borrazas / SOPA Images / Reuters

Red Cross estimates Some 300,000 people have been affected in some way by the earthquake, of which thousands of people have been left homeless after the destruction of entire towns. Many of these people now sleep in tents hastily erected on the rocky ground. These homes are cramped and uncomfortable in September, but potentially deadly in just a few months.

Among those inside is Sanaa Ait Moma, 35, who has been sleeping in one of these camps with her two children after they managed to escape their home just before the earthquake tore it down.

“My children are in shock. They cry, ‘Mom, mom, mom’ all the time,” she said, sitting in the doorway of a 10-by-10-foot tent. She is one of a group of about 50 in Amizmiz, where she and others sleep on mats that protect them from the dirt.

Still grieving the deaths of her friends, her mind must also think about what’s next for her family. She cannot return to her ruined house and she believes she could stay here for months, although “in winter she cannot live here because it is very cold.”

To avoid this, a colossal reconstruction and rehousing effort will be necessary, in addition to the relief and recovery mission that has already been launched.

Abdelhak Ait Bouhfid, 52, survived the earthquake with his wife and five children, but lost his house and all his livestock.
Abdelhak Ait Bouhfid, 52, survived the earthquake with his wife and five children, but lost his house and all his livestock. NBC News

is an answer which has generated some criticism internationallyafter Morocco said it was only accepting aid from four “friendly” countries and others, including the United States, said their offer of assistance had not received a response.

Some, including Ali and Ait Moma, feel generally positive about their government’s efforts. Others are much less vehemently so.

“All the people, even the children, are very angry because we are not happy with this situation,” said Abdelhak Ait Bouhfid, 52, whose family is crammed together with three other people in a tent in the town of Sidi. Hssaine, less than 2 miles outside Amizmiz.

His house was destroyed and all his livestock was killed, but his wife and five children made it out alive. His tent is already cold at night and he fears the inevitable mud that will occur if it rains later this week.

“The government hasn’t come just to see how we feel,” he said. “They were completely absent.”Raf Sánchez and Susan Archer reported from Amizmiz, Morocco. Alexander Smith reported from London.

Leave a Comment