Foreign rescuers to join urgent search for Morocco earthquake survivors

Rescuers on Monday faced a growing race against time to find survivors from the rubble of devastated villages in Morocco's Atlas Mountains, three days after the country's strongest-ever earthquake.

The magnitude-6.8 quake that struck late Friday southwest of the city of Marrakesh has claimed more than 2,100 lives and injured over 2,400, many seriously, according to official figures updated late on Sunday.

Rabat on Sunday announced it had accepted aid offers from four foreign nations, while many other countries have also said they were willing to send assistance.

Authorities have responded favorably "at this stage" to offers from Spain, Britain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates "to send search and rescue teams," the Interior Ministry said.

It noted the foreign teams were in contact with Moroccan authorities to coordinate efforts and said only four offers had been accepted because "a lack of coordination could be counterproductive."

Other offers may be accepted in the future "if the needs evolve," according to the ministry.

France was willing to provide aid "the second" Morocco requested it, President Emmanuel Macron said.

A Qatari aid flight left from Al-Udeid Air Base outside Doha on Sunday evening, an AFP journalist said.

Spain has sent 86 rescuers and eight search dogs to Morocco to "help in the search and rescue of survivors of the devastating earthquake suffered in our neighboring country," according to a Defense Ministry statement.

"We will send whatever is needed because everyone knows that these first hours are key, especially if there are people buried under rubble," Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles told public television.

(Cover: Emergency workers search for survivors in the town of Ouirgane, south of Marrakesh, after a powerful earthquake hit Morocco, September 10, 2023. /CFP)

Source(s): AFP

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