Earthquake in Morocco: SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL takes action

Published on Thursday 28 September 2023

28 september 2023

More than two weeks after the earthquake that struck the heart of Morocco’s High Atlas mountain region, the needs are considerable, as our emergency team on site can attest. The latest figures, still provisional, put the death toll at almost 3,000 and the number of injured at over 5,000.

Material damage is colossal. Numerous health and drinking water infrastructures and homes were damaged or completely destroyed by the earthquake. The affected populations were forced to find refuge in tents provided by the Moroccan government. But life in these tents is difficult to organize.    

The lack of drinking water, food and electricity is being reported. All the more so as, while the days are hot in the region, the nights are very cold. The situation is likely to get even worse in the coming weeks as winter sets in.  

SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is continuing its field evaluation to identify the priority needs of the populations concerned and put in place an appropriate response. 

Remote villages in the High Atlas mountains were particularly exposed to the effects of the natural disaster.   

While in some areas, access to drinking water sources is totally impaired, or even impossible, in others, new water points have appeared. The earthquake has upset the balance of villages that were, for the most part, organized around these sources.  

The increase in solid waste in the region has also alerted our emergency team in Morocco. A new challenge on top of the previous ones already identified.

13 september 2023

On the night of Friday September 8 to Saturday September 9, a devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco. It was the most powerful earthquake to hit the kingdom to date. The epicenter of the telluric tremor was located in the province of Al Haouz, southwest of the city of Marrakech.

Death toll still provisional

The latest official death toll given late on Tuesday was nearly 2,901, with a further 5,530 people injured. These figures are likely to increase. In Marrakech, the picture is particularly grim. The alleys are littered with debris and rubble caused by collapsed buildings, too fragile to withstand the powerful earthquakes. 

Many inhabitants have lost their loved ones and are now left with nothing. According to UNICEF, “some 300,000 people are homeless and sleeping rough”. Rescue workers continue to search for survivors in the rubble, but more than five days after the disaster, hopes are fading. Especially as the epicenter of the earthquake is located in a mountainous area of the High Atlas, where landslides have made access to the stricken villages difficult.


Responding quickly to emergencies

Since its creation, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONA has been providing emergency aid in hard-to-reach areas, where its presence makes all the difference. In order to respond as quickly as possible to the consequences of this disaster, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL launched an exploratory mission. Our NGO had no presence in Morocco before the earthquake struck, but one of our teams is mobilizing in the field to assess the priority needs of the affected populations. The aim of this analysis is to put in place an appropriate response to support Moroccan civil society in its emergency interventions.

While the first few days will be decisive in finding people buried under rubble and bringing them to safety, particularly in the most inaccessible areas, the next few weeks will also be crucial.  “We need to treat the affected populations, but also meet their priority needs and restore public services such as water and electricity, which have been damaged,” asserts Philippe Bonnet, Director of Emergencies for SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL. This situation is all the more urgent as the country will be entering the winter season in several months’ time, with low temperatures and rains expected in the coming days and weeks. It will therefore be crucial to provide emergency shelter and heating.


Header Photo : © Reuters / Nacho Doce

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