Flash floods kill seven football spectators in Morocco

Victims were swept away while watching a football game near the village of Tizrt

Relatives of the victims killed during a flash flood are seen mouring in the southern Moroccan city of Tizert.  AFP
Relatives of the victims killed during a flash flood are seen mouring in the southern Moroccan city of Tizert.  AFP

At least seven people were killed in flash floods in Morocco on Wednesday following torrential rains in the south of the country near Taroudant, 600 kilometres south of Rabat, local authorities said.

Search operations are ongoing to find survivors, said authorities in a statement.

Most of the victims were swept away by a sudden flash flood while watching a football game on a pitch built next to a dry river near the village of Tizrt, a local resident who asked not to be named told Reuters, confirming videos shared on social media showing the scene.

Spectators scrambled for their lives, some climbing on roofs, but at least seven people died, including a 17-year-old boy. An elderly man was injured.

Floodwaters sweep through a town in the Ighrem region of Morocco on Wednesday August 28, 2019. Abdallah Darif via AP
Floodwaters sweep through a town in the Ighrem region of Morocco on Wednesday August 28, 2019. Abdallah Darif via AP

Among the victims was recently married Hanafi Hilali, 35, who was seeking refuge on top of a dressing room but was swept away by the roaring waters, his brother Mohamed Hilali told The Associated Press.

The two had become trapped on the field, but Mohammed raced to rescue his son and his cousin, both young children.

“What happened was horrific, shocking. I could not return to rescue my brother,” he said in a phone interview, weeping as he recounted the scene.

The southern Moroccan mountains, known as the Anti-Atlas, are arid and rarely receive rain in the summer.

An official investigation has been opened.

Morocco’s national weather service had warned of risks of bad weather in several regions of the country.

Heavy rains in remote regions of the North African kingdom left 15 people dead in July. Their van was buried under 20 metres of earth in a landslide triggered by heavy rainfall on a route south of Marrakech.

Updated: August 29, 2019 07:03 PM

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