Villagers wept for their lost relatives in the rubble of their homes on Monday as the death toll from Morocco’s deadliest earthquake in more than six decades rose to almost 2,700 and rescuers raced against time to find survivors.
Search teams from Spain, Britain and Qatar were joined Moroccan rescue efforts after a 6.8 magnitude quake struck late on Friday in the High Atlas Mountains, with the epicentre 72 km (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech.
The state news agency reported the death toll had risen to 2,681 with 2,501 people injured. Rescuers said the traditional mud brick houses ubiquitous in the region reduced the chances of finding survivors because they had crumbled.
Among the dead was 7-year-old Suleiman Aytnasr, whose mother had carried him to his bedroom after he fell asleep in the living room of their home in a hamlet outside Talat N’Yaaqoub, in one of the worst-hit areas. He had been about to start a new school year.
The level of destruction is … absolute,” said Nogales, struggling to find the right word to describe what he was seeing. “Not a single house has stayed upright.
Despite the scale of the damage, he said rescuers searching with dogs still hoped to find survivors.
“I am sure that in the coming days there will be some rescues, we think that there may still be people in the collapsed structures, that there may have been pockets of air, and as I say, we never give up hope,” he said