Efforts to rescue survivors of Moroccan earthquake 'being hampered by geography'

Hamza Taouzzale, former lord mayor of Westminster, returned from a visit to the country saying rural and mountainous areas are hard to reach

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Efforts to rescue survivors of Morocco's devastating earthquake are being hampered by the country’s geography, says the former lord mayor of Westminster.

Hamza Taouzzale, who is of Moroccan descent and returned from a visit to the country on Thursday, said many areas worst affected are rural and mountainous, making them hard to reach.

He is urging Britons to offer the people of Morocco a “source of hope” by sending things like non-perishable food and blankets.

He told The National his contacts in the country said rescuers are still finding survivors and uncovering bodies under the rubble following the quake in the High Atlas mountains on Friday night that has killed at least 2,012 people.

“These are in the mountainous rural regions which are quite hard to get to,” he said.

In many of the areas, there may be only one or two shops.

“And if they get knocked down or something happens to them, that’s the area done for. You have to rely on food from three hours away.”

He said many people are still sleeping outside out of fear of aftershocks.

“They still don’t know what’s going to happen, which is the biggest concern. People initially were told to stay outside because there might be a second earthquake or a third earthquake,” he said.

“So you had people, even for a second night yesterday sleeping out on the streets because they weren’t sure [whether their homes could withstand another earthquake].

“They are not the sort of homes we have here in the UK. They are more susceptible to damage.”

He urged people in the UK to reach out to charities to send food and blankets, which are used to cover bodies during their burial.

Mr Taouzzale returned just days ago from a trip to the country to visit friends and family in the north and Casablanca, which was affected by the quake.

“I have spoken to some friends in Meknes and Casablanca,” he said.

“Casablanca obviously is a bit further out. But they still felt it as well. Meknes felt it a little more but they are closer to the region where the earthquake hit.

“It’s such a shock, so a lot of them are just taking time to comprehend what’s happened.

“A lot of them have said to me they are lucky it was at 11pm because they were still awake. If people were at home sleeping the death toll would have been a lot larger.”

Updated: September 10, 2023, 12:20 PM