TANZANIA: PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has extended her and the nation’s condolences to King Mohammed VI of Morrocco and the citizens, following the devastating earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people and caused severe damages in several areas.
“Devastating news from Morocco following the earthquake. On behalf of the government and the people of Tanzania, I extend my heartfelt condolences to King Mohammed VI, the bereaved families and all the people of Morocco during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you,” wrote President Samia on her twitter handle.
According to the reports a strong earthquake of magnitude 6.8 struck central Morocco on Friday, killing more than 2,000 people and causing severe damages in several areas.
“Violent” tremors were felt in several areas of the country from Casablanca to Marrakesh, where many buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged.
The country’s royal palace has declared three days of national mourning.
It also said the armed forces would deploy rescue teams to provide affected areas with clean drinking water, food supplies, tents and blankets.
Many of the victims are believed to be in hard-to-reach mountain areas.
The epicentre was in the High Atlas Mountains, 71km (44 miles) south-west of Marrakesh.
Many people are still believed to be under the rubble and rescue efforts are under way. Several bodies have already been recovered.
Hospitals in Marrakesh have seen an influx of injured people and the authorities have called on residents to donate blood.
Morocco’s interior ministry said the earthquake killed people in the provinces and municipalities of al-Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant, adding that more than 1,200 had been injured.
In Marrakesh some buildings have collapsed and the damage is particularly severe in parts of the Medina, a Unesco World Heritage site.
Dust could be seen surrounding the minaret of the historic Kutubiyya mosque, a major tourist attraction near the old city’s main square, while the historic Jemaa el Fnaa mosque partly collapsed.
Resident Rashid Ben Arabi rushed to his car in Marrakesh minutes after the earthquake struck the city last night.
He quickly headed with his wife and one-year-old daughter to the town of Amizmiz – about 56km (35 miles) from Marrakesh – to make sure his father and mother were still alive.
He said the roads were full as everyone fled the city amid complete darkness and a power outage.
“As soon as I entered my town, I saw people in a hysterical state, crying and screaming and everyone was looking for their families,” he said.
“I saw a man lying on the ground by the rubble of his house; he could hear the screams of his two children trapped under the destroyed building, but he couldn’t do anything to help them; rescue teams hadn’t yet arrived at the scene.”
Rashid eventually found his parents who were safe and sound but wrapped in blankets and sleeping in the street.
They were among the many people who spent the night out in the open as the Moroccan government had warned everyone not to go back into their homes in case of severe aftershocks.
A 4.9-magnitude aftershock was recorded 19 minutes after the earthquake.
The extent of the damage in mountain villages is instead unknown, but it is believed to be widespread.