UN says quake-hit Morocco could demand assistance 'today or tomorrow'

The natural disaster has killed about 3,000 people and damaged tens of thousands of buildings

A woman walks past collapsed buildings in Talat N'Yaaqoub, Morocco. Getty Images
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The UN said on Friday that quake-ravaged Morocco could ask for aid "today or tomorrow".

"We are expecting and hoping but expecting from our discussions with the Moroccan authorities that the request for assistance will go out within today or tomorrow," UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told reporters in Geneva.

The magnitude 6.8 earthquake, Morocco's strongest on record, killed about 3,000 people and injured more than 5,600 when it hit last Friday in Al Haouz province, south of the tourist centre of Marrakesh.

Morocco has also announced the launch of an aid programme to support and rehouse the residents of about 50,000 buildings damaged in last week's devastating earthquake.

Those left homeless will be provided with temporary shelter in “structures designed to withstand cold and bad weather, or in reception sites equipped with all the necessary amenities”, the royal office said after a meeting chaired by King Mohamed VI on Thursday.

Moroccan authorities have also ordered urgent aid of 30,000 dirhams ($2,900) for each household affected by the disaster, the royal office.

It said this would form the first stage of a programme covering about 50,000 homes that had fully or partially collapsed in the quake.

The number of people left without homes by the earthquake, which has devastated entire villages in Morocco's Atlas mountain region, is not known.

The royal office said 140,000 dirhams would be allocated for homes that had completely collapsed while 80,000 dirhams will be set aside to rebuild partially collapsed structures.

Morocco has allowed rescue teams to come to its aid from the UAE, Spain, Britain and Qatar, but declined offers from several other nations, including the US, France and some Middle Eastern countries.

Updated: September 15, 2023, 10:14 AM