Moroccan citizens on Sunday mourned the victims of a powerful earthquake that has killed more than 2,000 people and injured hundreds more.
Rescue teams struggled to reach thousands in hard-hit areas who were injured by the quake Friday night, the biggest to hit Morocco in 120 years, AFP reported. Survivors are being forced to sleep rough this weekend as relief efforts continue.
At least 2,012 people have died and more than 2,059 injured in the disaster, according to the interior ministry, with 1,404 in critical condition.
The magnitude 6.8 earthquake’s epicenter was in the High Atlas Mountains southwest of Marrakesh, devastating the historic city and wiping out some rural villages, according to the BBC. The quake was also felt in Rabat and Casablanca. Morocco’s Al Haouz province has the highest death toll, according to the interior ministry, followed by Taroudant.
“The next 24 to 48 hours will be critical in terms of saving lives,” Caroline Holt, Global Director of Operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a statement on Saturday.
Search and rescue efforts are being prioritized “in parallel” with taking care of survivors, she said.
“We need to make sure we don’t have a disaster within a disaster,” Holt said.
The Moroccan government declared three days of national mourning — a mark of the scale of the tragedy.
World leaders have been quick to express solidarity with Morocco. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said her “heart” was with the Moroccan people. Pedro Sanchez, prime minister of Spain, said his country is “with the victims of this tragedy,” Reuters reported.