Condolences, aid pour in for quake-hit Morocco

2023-09-11 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Condolences and aid from the international community poured in for Morocco on Saturday and Sunday after a powerful earthquake rocked the North African nation on Friday, killing more than 2,000 people.

President Xi Jinping extended condolences on Saturday to Morocco's King Mohammed VI over the devastating earthquake. In his message, Xi said he was shocked to learn of the quake, which resulted in heavy casualties and property losses in the country.

On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, he expressed deep sorrow for the victims and offered sincere sympathies to the families of the deceased and the injured.

At least 2,012 people were killed in the magnitude 6.8 quake, mostly in Marrakech and five provinces near the epicenter, Morocco's Interior Ministry reported on Saturday night. At least 2,059 people were injured, 1,404 of them critically, the ministry said.

The World Health Organization said more than 300,000 people in Morocco have been affected by the disaster.

On Saturday, Morocco declared three days of mourning, and on Sunday, King Mohammed called for prayers for the dead to be held at mosques across the country. He also ordered the armed forces to mobilize specialized search and rescue teams, and set up a surgical field hospital, according to a statement from the military.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed sorrow over the loss of lives in the earthquake, according to his spokesman.

"The secretary-general addresses his most sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured," the spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement on Saturday.

The UN is ready to assist the government of Morocco in helping the affected population, according to the statement.

Many people in the quake-hit region spent a second night in the open. Relief workers face the challenge of reaching the worst-affected villages in the High Atlas, a rugged mountain range where settlements are often remote and where many houses have been reduced to rubble.

"The next 24 to 48 hours will be critical in terms of saving lives," said Caroline Holt, global director of operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in a statement.

On Saturday, the Red Cross Society of China announced that it would provide the Moroccan Red Crescent with $200,000 in cash as emergency humanitarian assistance for its rescue operations and would keep abreast of the relief needs in the country.

Algeria has expressed its readiness to assist Morocco, saying that it will open its airspace to flights carrying humanitarian aid, a state-owned news agency reported on Saturday, citing a presidential statement.

Tunisia announced on Saturday that a rescue team had left for Morocco to assist in search and rescue efforts, the official TAP news agency reported.

Turkiye, which suffered massive earthquakes in February, said it was "ready to provide all kinds of support to heal the wounds", the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Saturday, citing the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Also on Saturday, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani expressed his condolences over the quake to Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, wished the injured "a speedy recovery" and pledged to provide "all necessary assistance".

Global leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Russian President Vladimir Putin, also offered their condolences.

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