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Moroccan rescue teams face challenges in reaching earthquake victims in the mountains

Villagers inspect the rubble of collapsed houses in Tafeghaghte, southwest of Marrakesh, on Sept. 10.
Fadel Senna
/
AFP via Getty Images
Villagers inspect the rubble of collapsed houses in Tafeghaghte, southwest of Marrakesh, on Sept. 10.

Updated September 10, 2023 at 8:30 PM ET

Rescue teams in Morocco continue to comb through the ruins in search for any survivors two days after a devastating earthquake struck near the historic city of Marrakech.

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake on Friday killed more than 2,100 people and injured more than 2,400 others. Scores of homes, as well as historical sites were destroyed.

On Sunday, parks and streets in Marrakech were filled with sleeping bags belonging to residents who lost their homes or remained afraid of going into buildings. Meanwhile, the remote villages in the Atlas Mountains, near the quake's epicenter, continue to struggle to access food, water and electricity.

International and local help have been pouring into the earthquake zone, but efforts to send supplies and search teams to those hard-hit villages have been a challenge because of blocked or damaged roads.

Recovery efforts have also been impeded by aftershocks that are causing boulders and large rocks to pummel the mountain's roadways. Road crews have been working quickly remove the rubble and get emergency responders into the remote villages.

In Marrakech, hospitals are surrounded by ambulances carrying injured village residents, largely to treat broken bones and crushed bodies.

Residents have been lining up at local blood banks to donate. The National Center for Blood Donation and Investigation in Morocco said 6,000 bags of blood were collected in a single day, according to Morocco World News.

On Saturday, Moroccan King Mohammed VI declaredthree days of national mourning and instructed the country's mosques to hold prayer services for the victims on Sunday.

NPR's Lauren Frayer contributed reporting.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.