Moroccan king visits quake area as toll tops 2900

The death toll from Morocco's earthquake has reached 2901 with at least 5530 people injured.

The death toll from Morocco's earthquake has reached 2901 with at least 5530 people injured. Photo: Getty

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has visited the region hit by a devastating earthquake in which more than 2900 people were killed, as hope of finding survivors dwindles.

According to the MAP news agency, the 60-year-old monarch donated blood on Tuesday at a hospital in the western city of Marrakesh, some 70km from where the quake struck.

The death toll from the 6.8 magnitude quake that struck in the High Atlas Mountains late on Friday rose to 2901, while the number of people injured more than doubled to 5530, state television reported.

It was the North African country’s deadliest earthquake since 1960 and its most powerful in more than a century.

Rescue and relief efforts are ongoing, as authorities work on opening roads damaged or blocked, the ministry added.

Rescue efforts have been described as slow by witnesses due to the difficult road conditions, especially in the villages of the Atlas Mountains.

The situation was most desperate for people in remote areas cut off by landslides triggered by the earthquake that blocked access roads, while in accessible locations relief efforts were stepping up with tent camps and distribution of food and water.

Mehdi Ait Bouyali, 24, was camping along the Tizi n’Test road, which connects remote valleys to the historic city of Marrakech, with a few other survivors who had also fled their destroyed villages.

He said the group had received food and blankets from people driving by but nothing from the state.

“The villages of the valley have been forgotten. We need any kind of help. We need tents,” he said, criticising the government’s relief efforts.

Morocco has agreed to offers of support made by Spain, Qatar, Britain and the UAE, adding that it could later accept offers made by other countries.

Germany again offered help to Morocco on Monday, however, Rabat has shown no interest.

The Moroccan government has said it has so far accepted aid from “friendly countries” after “a thorough evaluation of the needs and aware that unco-ordinated aid would be counterproductive.”

It has not explained why the UN, the organisation with the world’s greatest experience in responding to natural disasters, has been kept waiting for a concrete response as the days pass and the chances of finding survivors dwindle.

The UN had not received any official request for assistance from the Moroccan government, the secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed during a press conference.

The UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) said initial reports indicate that approximately 100,000 children have been affected by the earthquake.

The UN estimates that more than 300,000 people have been affected in Marrakesh and in the High Atlas Mountains.

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