“This earthquake will not be a mere incident, however a full-blown catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude for Morocco. It’s a actual tragedy,” Hassan Aourid, the Moroccan author and tutorial, tells Al Jazeera, as he displays on the devastating earthquake that hit the nation on Friday, which he says left the nation reeling.
The previous authorities official is considered one of Morocco’s most essential mental figures, and is at the moment a professor at Mohammed V College in Rabat.
For Aourid, the tremors of the 6.8-magnitude earthquake, with its epicentre in central Morocco close to the historic metropolis of Marrakesh, have shaken everybody throughout the nation, leaving them horrified and deeply saddened.
The highly effective earthquake is the most important to hit the North African nation in 120 years. It despatched folks racing from their beds into the streets and despatched buildings toppling in mountainous villages and historic cities with weak infrastructure.
Greater than 2,000 folks have been killed, and the toll is predicted to rise as rescuers battle to succeed in hard-hit distant areas.
Whereas Aourid’s speedy household was spared, he expressed a deep sense of shock, sorrow and concern, emotions shared by tens of millions of Moroccans.
“Compared to earlier quakes, just like the one which hit in 2004, wiping out a metropolis, this catastrophe’s scope is even broader, leaving indelible scars on our folks,” Aourid says.
In 1960, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck close to the Moroccan metropolis of Agadir and brought on hundreds of deaths. In 2004, a 6.4-magnitude quake close to the Mediterranean coastal metropolis of Al Hoceima left greater than 600 useless.
Whereas the federal government has declared three days of nationwide mourning, Aourid says the ache and sorrow will linger far past that interval, because the nation grapples with the dimensions of the catastrophe.
Challenges, authorities response
Morocco faces quite a few and long-term challenges in addressing this catastrophe, however the speedy priorities embrace rescuing survivors trapped underneath the rubble and offering shelter, meals, and medical care to those that have misplaced their properties and livelihoods, says Aourid.
“The psychological affect on survivors should even be addressed. However past these speedy issues, reconstruction efforts should embody strengthening infrastructure to face up to future earthquakes – a invaluable lesson to be discovered from this tragedy,” he notes.
The Nineteen Sixties quake prompted adjustments in building guidelines in Morocco, however many buildings, particularly rural properties, weren’t constructed to face up to such temblors.
Aourid says the royal palace’s response to the disaster has been swift and complete, outlining a plan to rebuild properties and assist these affected.
In a press release issued on Saturday, the palace laid out its steps to deal with the disaster, together with the supply of ingesting water, meals and tents to areas affected by the quake, and the swift resumption of public providers
Regardless of the swift nationwide and worldwide response, the ultimate dying toll and the scope of the devastation stay unsure.
“The earthquake struck through the evening, catching many households of their properties. As rescue missions proceed, extra casualties are more likely to be found and the dying toll will sadly rise,” says Aourid.
Equally, the total extent of the destruction continues to be unknown, with some villages leveled to the bottom and others partially broken.
Along with the lack of human life, essential historic websites have been destroyed by the quake.
“One in all our largest losses is Tinmel Mosque. A good friend who works on defending historic websites of Marrakesh known as me sobbing over its collapse. He supplied his condolences as if Tinmel was an individual who’d died,” says Aourid.
The Twelfth-century mosque was constructed by the Almohad dynasty, which dominated a lot of North Africa and Spain. The medieval dynasty established its first capital within the distant Excessive Atlas Mountains earlier than occurring to grab Marrakesh.
Moroccan media reported that elements of the Tinmel Mosque had collapsed and images circulating on-line confirmed tumbled partitions and huge piles of particles.
Some buildings in Marrakesh’s outdated metropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage website, suffered heavy harm, however some essential websites, together with the Jemaa el-Fnaa sq. and Kutubiyya Mosque, appeared to have remained intact.
Glimmer of hope
Though rebuilding efforts can be in depth and protracted, requiring important assets and time, worldwide response and assist to the victims has introduced a glimmer of hope to Aourid and plenty of different Moroccans alike.
“The worldwide assist we’ve felt, particularly from the Arab and Muslim world, is big. I’ve obtained messages from folks from many nations within the area – Qatar, Tunisia, Lebanon, Algeria, Mauritania, and extra. This solidarity helps ease our ache,” says Aourid.
“The outpouring of assist from nations like Algeria has additionally not gone unnoticed. Solidarity in instances of tragedy transcends political variations, emphasising the deeply rooted human and cultural ties between us,” he provides.
Following the quake, neighbouring Algeria supplied to open its airspace to permit humanitarian support or medical evacuation flights to journey to and from Morocco. It has additionally supplied to ship emergency groups to assist.
Algeria had closed its airspace to Moroccan planes after its authorities severed diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021 over a sequence of points, together with a dispute over the territory of Western Sahara.
Whereas responding to the disaster is the speedy precedence, this tragic occasion has the potential to reshape and enhance relations between nations in the long term, says Aourid, who provides that the disaster may additionally problem misconceptions between the 2 nations.
“A number of the misconceptions amongst Algerians about Moroccans would possibly change after this tragedy,” he explains.
Regardless of the unprecedented scope of this disaster and left wounds it has left behind, Aourid is for certain it is going to carry out the perfect in folks, demonstrating the energy of human solidarity in instances of adversity.
“As Morocco grapples with the aftermath of this catastrophe, there’s hope that it’s going to emerge stronger and higher ready for the longer term,” he says.