Rescuers are having trouble reaching remote rural areas that were hit the hardest
At least 2,681 people have died from the Moroccan earthquake as of Monday and 2,501 have been injured, according to state-run media. King Mohammed VI has declared three days of national mourning.
The Casablanca-based 2M TV channel reported the updated death toll on Monday morning, as rescue crews dug through the rubble in the mountains south of Marrakesh.
The 6.8 magnitude quake struck on Friday evening, at a depth of 26km under the Atlas Mountains. Around 1,500 of the deaths were in the Al-Haouz province. Some villages were “completely destroyed” according to the surviving residents who spoke with rescuers and the media. Of the 200 residents in Azgour, a village near the epicenter, 15 were killed.
Morocco has dispatched the military to help civilian rescue crews, but roads and passes through the mountains have been damaged or blocked by debris. Heavy machinery has been deployed to clear the roads and helicopters are trying to reach the most remote settlements.
A relief convoy of the Moroccan army reached Asni, the town closest to the epicenter, on Monday morning and started setting up a field hospital to treat the injured. The hospital has 30 beds in 16 tents, with a staff of 24 doctors and 48 nurses, Colonel Youssef Qamouss told CNN. The most common injuries are burns, fractures and cuts, he added.
Friday’s earthquake was the worst to strike Morocco since 1960, when at least 12,000 people died in a 5.8 magnitude tremor in Agadir.