On September 8, late in the evening, Morocco was shocked by an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8. The consequences of the earthquake are major, and this became clear in the time that followed. People are scared and shocked. Many people slept outside during the first nights, and a search is underway for the injured and deceased. It is currently estimated that more than 3,000 people have died.
The epicenter of the earthquake was in Ighil, 72 km southwest of Marrakesh, in the mountains. The affected area extends from Marrakesh to Ouarzazate (about a 4-hour drive in a south-eastern direction) and Aoulouz (about a 5-hour drive in a southerly direction) and further.
Tourism in Marrakech
Fortunately, the damage in Marrakesh is limited. Marrakech welcomes tourists as always. The mosque at Jemaa el Fna is damaged, and the Saadian tombs and the Bahia palace are currently inaccessible due to structural cracks. The Moroccan government is working hard to restore beautiful Marrakesh and its buildings to all their glory.
Tourism in the mountains
Our first group of travelers has now climbed Mount Toubkal again. The roads were open and passable again, and during their journey they also helped build a tent camp as alternative housing for the local population. Thanks, gentlemen!
Morocco is therefore completely accessible again for tourists, and tourists are also warmly welcomed.
The local people in the mountains
The situation for the local population in the mountains is unfortunately less rosy. Many villages have been partially or completely destroyed. People live in makeshift tents and the local population, with outside help, is working hard to provide tents for everyone and prepare people for the winter.
The government has said it will rebuild the affected houses, but so far the people are still awaiting the government’s inventory; it is expected that reconstruction will not start until next year at the earliest. As we mentioned above; the affected area is enormous. So, it will take a while before all the houses are rebuilt.
There is little outside help. That means people are still living in makeshift tents without showers or toilets. The men are still trying to save what household items can be saved. But at night, others search among the rubble for valuables. So, it is not safe there. The tents are often not waterproof, and the simple life in the mountains has suddenly become a lot harder.
Moroccan solidarity and mentality
The solidarity between people is enormous. Especially during the first stage, a lot of help was provided, and the Moroccans brought food, blankets, mattresses, medicines, diapers, etc. etc. en masse to the affected areas.
The affected people are impressive in their calm, gratitude, and unwavering hospitality. Even in the most meager tents, you will be offered tea. The people are calm and brave and grateful. But they are also concerned about the near future.
A woman we met in a makeshift tent had just given birth to a baby a few days before. Her husband was not there; he was already back in the mountains helping others. The solidarity and strength of the people from the mountains is truly impressive.
It has now been a month since the earthquake, and the promised structural aid to meet long-term commitments for new houses has not arrived, but, in the meantime, there are many people in the mountains who are still living in appalling conditions and who wait for winter with fear and trembling. With temperatures below freezing and the chance of getting snowed in, this is a real problem.
We and other organizations are currently trying to work hard to ensure that the local population is as well prepared as possible for the winter. This means that there must be good waterproof tents. In the mountains it often freezes and snows in winter. So, the tents must be able to withstand a blow. In addition, blankets, mattresses, medicines, clothes and non-perishable food are needed. The harvest has been destroyed, and the current situation means that men from the mountains cannot leave their families to go to the big cities and work, something they normally do to earn money.
In short, the situation is dire.
How you can help us help the people
With Travel Magical Morocco, we are focusing on assistance in Tighza and Majat. We work closely with other organizations working in Aoulouz so that we can use each other’s knowledge and insights and, where necessary, strengthen each other.
And our request to you is therefore to please help us to help people get through the winter. Tenting is the most important thing now. Food, clothing, and blankets are also important. We can buy the tents in Ouarzazate, so we have mainly been helped with monetary donations.
Also, help us to spread the word. If you know friends, acquaintances, organizations, or companies that are willing to donate money to sponsor a tent, please send them our donation information!
So about the earthquake in Morocco: We really need all the help we can get. And every little bit, no matter how small, helps. On behalf of the people from the mountains: Thank you!