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Earthquake of September 8, 2023: the Moroccan people are already raising their heads

The powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake which occurred on the night of Friday September 8 to Saturday September 9, 2023 in the Moroccan High Atlas caused the death of some 3'000 people, mainly Berbers, including many children, but it also illustrated the courage of the Moroccan people who, helped by their authorities and international solidarity, showed themselves mature enough to overcome this ordeal (our photo AFP). Less than two weeks after the earthquake, he is already raising his head.

A third of the disappeared died in the Province of Taroudant, where our riad is located.

The most affected rural communities (marked by a red ellipse on our map) are located at altitude. Their name are Tizi n’Test (417 dead), Tafingoult (156), Tigouga (96), Ouneine (51) and Sidi Ouaaziz (46).

The earthquake and its aftershocks were felt as far as Agadir, thus reigniting the fear of drama of 1960, which left up to 16'000 dead. Located at the western end of the Province of Taroudant, The Garden of Stars, built according to anti-seismic standards, is intact. The tremors were nevertheless clearly felt there. Very few small objects were broken, like this set of pipe accessories. It was only decoration in the Salon Atlas, where smoking is prohibited.

The city of Taroudant was impacted by the disaster. A small number of victims were reported, but damage was reported to buildings. The most visible are the famous walls (our photo). These were already deteriorated in certain places and a restoration was being studied. Urgent interventions are therefore envisaged. Protective measures have been taken to avoid any personal accidents until then.

As shown in the video, the family of our excellent cook Fatima, in a state of astonishment, was among the Roudanis forced to spend three nights outside, for fear that the cracks noted in the houses would lead to a new tragedy due to the aftershocks recorded. Frightened, the children were nevertheless able to sleep. But not the parents. As soon as the authorities gave permission to return to her house, Fatima demonstrated her courage and her desire to move forward by immediately making purchases intended for visitors to the Garden of Starts who had requested her at the prior.

Thousands of villagers live to the north and south of Tizi n'Test, a road pass which usually connects the Souss plain and Marrakech and provides magnificent discoveries. Local residents were much less fortunate. The village of Imi N'Tala, near Amizmiz, by example was almost completely razed (photo Bulent Kilic/AFP).

Solidarity caravans flocked very quickly. The French speakers of Taroudant (our photo) were particularly mobilized. Well done to them.

King Mohammed VI, who was in Paris on the evening of the earthquake, returned quickly to Rabat, with the clear desire that the Moroccan forces themselves take charge of operations on the ground, having developed the latter years of intervention capabilities deemed effective.

The sovereign held two interministerial meetings, with the participation of the head of government Aziz Akhannouch and, for one of they, of the crown prince Moulay El Hassan (our photo).

It was revealed that almost two million people, including 675'000 children, live in the heavily affected areas and that 530 schools and 55 boarding schools have been damaged. The sovereign requested that destitute orphans be given the status of wards of the nation.

Around 50'000 homes have completely or partially collapsed. The residents did not sit idly by, when they could (our photo Fethi Belaid/AFP).

The king gave instructions that an amount of 140'000 dirhams (14'000 euros) be allocated for each completely collapsed home and 80'000 dirhams (8'000 euros) for partially damaged homes. To these amounts is added emergency aid of 30'000 dirhams (3'000 euros) paid to each affected household.

Moroccan security forces were confronted with the emergency in the first villages located at the bottom of the valleys, which are often the most populated. At the same time, they had to clear the roads and tracks, resulting in bottlenecks and difficulty for specialists to deploy. In our photo Fethi Belaid/AFP, an truck carrying mattresses drives problematically on a congested mountain road in the village of Sidi Hsaine. The police even had to close certain access to humanitarian convoys.

Only four countries received a favorable response to their spontaneous offer of aid: Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Spain (our photo: arrival, on 10 September, of a contingent of the Spanish Military Emergency Unit at Marrakech airport). The knowledge of the language and the knowledge of the terrain for the Spaniards, who cooperate with Morocco in firefighting, were put forward to explain this choice. However, it also happens that these countries have clearly declared themselves in favor of Moroccan sovereignty over the former Spanish Sahara, which other European countries have not done, as well as Algeria, whose aid has not was retained, initially at least, hence misunderstandings.

Aziz Akhannouch, who held a third interministerial meeting, intends to ensure temporary rehousing (our photo Paloma Laudet/Item/Out of format taken at Tal at N’Yaaqoub), before structures designed to resist cold and bad weather take their place. There is an emergency, given the proximity of winter. As for the homes themselves, they may not be rebuilt for a year or two. It will also be necessary to redo roads, water and electricity networks.

It is therefore an enormous effort of all kinds that awaits Morocco and especially the High Atlas so that they can keep their smiles (our photo). The State has promised massive and unconditional budgetary aid, estimated, all inclusive, at 120 billion dirhams, or nearly 11 billion euros. This will weigh heavily on public finances, which were already in a difficult situation.

It is in this context that the financial contributions of private and associative actors, NGOs and countries which have announced their support will be essential and appreciated.

Until then, Morocco will continue to live. Received by traditional Moroccan hospitality, tourists are welcome, both in Marrakech and Agadir. An example of ongoing resilience, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank are maintaining their annual meeting in the Ocher City.


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