King of Morocco visits earthquake patients as death toll passes 5,000

Mohammed VI greeted those injured in the quake in Marrakesh, kissing one on the head and donating blood

King Mohammed VI of Morocco visited some injured in the country's devastating quake on Tuesday. MAP
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Morocco’s King Mohammed VI visited a Marrakesh hospital treating many of those injured in Friday night's devastating earthquake, and rolled up a sleeve to donate blood.

The quake killed more than 2,900 people and injured at least 5,530 others in flattened villages and townhouses, most of whom were in mountain towns and villages near the epicentre in Morocco's High Atlas Mountains.

As of Tuesday, more than 240 of the injured were being treated at hospitals in the Marrakesh region.

King Mohammed visited a hospital bearing his name in Marrakesh, asked questions about the care provided to those injured in the quake and the condition of survivors, the official MAP news agency said.

A video shows the king – whose public appearances are normally limited to special occasions – visiting the bedsides of several patients, bending over to bestow a kiss on the head of a young boy, and standing at the side of an older man.

In a surprising gesture, the monarch was seen seated in a chair, coat off, suspenders showing, and shirtsleeves rolled up, with his arm at the ready to donate blood.

Blood donations have become a national gesture of solidarity, with Moroccans lining up in Marrakesh and other cities to donate blood for the injured.

The earthquake also damaged parts of the walls that surround Marrakesh’s old city, a Unesco World Heritage site built in the 12th century.

Videos showed dust billowing from parts of the Koutoubia Mosque, one of Marrakesh’s best known historic sites. The city is also the site of one of the monarch’s royal palaces.

Updated: September 13, 2023, 5:49 AM