MADRID – The devastating earthquake in Morocco with its epicentre in the Marrakech region has already claimed more than 2,100 victims and more than 2,400 injured. Frantic efforts are being made to pull as many people as possible out alive from the rubble.
Thousands of Moroccan residents have spent their third night in the open as their homes have been destroyed. The Moroccan government has announced three days of national mourning. Spain is also coming to the aid of its neighbour. The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed Morocco’s request for assistance in the aftermath of the disaster.
— UME (@UMEgob) September 10, 2023
A first team from the Spanish military emergency unit UME, consisting of 56 soldiers and four sniffer dogs, has already been sent to the affected area. “We have officially requested help from Spain,” said Minister Albares. In addition, the minister also indicated that Spain is sending humanitarian aid by plane to the affected area. He reaffirmed that to date there is no information that there were any Spanish casualties in the earthquake.
The role of UME
The Moroccan authorities have given the UME a crucial role as the Reception and Departure Centre (RDC). This unit coordinates the various search and rescue teams that come to the affected area. Their task is to instruct these teams and provide them with up-to-date information about the situation on-site.
In addition, a team of 30 from the Unidad Especial de Emergencia y Respuesta Inmediata of the Madrid Region (Ericam) also travelled to the area to provide support. A team of 5 firefighters with 4 sniffer dogs is also on its way from Málaga. Cádiz has sent 6 rescue workers.
👨🚒El bombero marbellí Antonio Medina y su perro Rasty, especialista en rescate y localización de personas, viajarán a Marruecos tras el terremoto para colaborar de forma voluntaria en las labores de desescombro y salvamento
➡️Lo harán a través de la ONG Bomberos para el Mundo pic.twitter.com/0neyi7ftvp
— Ayto. Marbella (@Ayto_Marbella) September 9, 2023
Solidarity and international support
Not only Spain, but also the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have offered their help. Even Algeria, a country that does not have warm diplomatic relations with Morocco, has opened its airspace to humanitarian flights.
Spanish citizens: Repatriation
About the situation of Spanish tourists stuck in Morocco, Albares says: “We are in discussions with Iberia and Binter to free up more capacity for the repatriation of these Spaniards.”
Non-governmental organisations such as Bomberos Sin Fronteras and Aldeas Infantiles are also actively involved in humanitarian aid. With thousands of Moroccan residents having lost their homes, it is clear that the recovery process will be long and difficult.
Continued risk with possible aftershocks
Experts warn that aftershocks could still occur in the coming months, although they are likely to be less intense.