'We've lost everything': Homes and lives destroyed as Morocco earthquake death toll rises further

Up to 100,000 children have been hurt or made homeless by the Moroccan earthquake, as ITV News' Sally Biddulph reports

More than 2,900 people have been killed in the strongest earthquake to hit Morocco in over a century, while those who survived the deadly tremors have "lost everything".

The devastating 6.8 magnitude quake hit the rural Al Haouz region on Friday, 44 miles south of Marrakech, killing 1,643 in the area alone as of Tuesday.

Rescuers from Morocco, Spain, aid groups, and 60 teams from the UK are desperately searching for survivors.

But with the death toll continuing to rise, hope is dwindling fast.

State television reported the number of injured has risen to at least 2,501 people.

A woman tries to recover some of her possessions from her home which was damaged by the eartquake. Credit: AP

Homes crumbled into dust and debris, choking out the air pockets that might allow some people to survive for days under rubble.

“People are generally suffocated by the dust," said Arnaud Fraisse, founder of Rescuers Without Borders, who sent volunteers to the danger zone.

“It’s incredibly challenging to lose your entire family and all your possessions,” Musa Bouissirfane said.

His dead relatives were dug out from under rubble and dust in the ruins of the mud-brick Moroccan village of Tafeghaghte.

He added: “We have lost everything - our homes, our livestock and all our possessions.”

“It’s a catastrophe,’’ said survivor Salah Ancheu, in the town where mountainside homes and a mosque’s minaret (tower built adjacent to the place of worship) collapsed.

“We don’t know what the future is. The aid remains insufficient,” the 28-year-old said.

The earthquake and several aftershocks have destroyed the clay and mud brick-built villages, leaving them resembling a warzone.

Those who survived have been delivered food and water, and the giant boulders which were blocking steep mountain roads have been cleared.

But many people are sleeping rough or in makeshift tents and worries are growing about shelter, especially as rain is predicted this week..

Army units deployed Monday along a paved road leading from Amizmiz to more remote mountain villages.

Bulldozers and other heavy machinery were being used to clear the routes, state news agency MAP reported.

A couple walk through the wreckage caused by the earthquake in the town of Amizmiz. Credit: AP

Tourists and residents lined up to give blood. In some villages, people wept as boys and helmet-clad police carried the dead through streets.

Flags were lowered across Morocco, as King Mohammed VI ordered three days of national mourning starting Sunday.

But there was little time for mourning as survivors tried to salvage anything from damaged homes.

Morocco has deployed ambulances, rescue crews and soldiers to the region to assist with emergency response efforts.

A donkey stands inside a building damaged by the earthquake in the village of Tafeghaghte, near Marrakech. Credit: AP

Those left homeless, or fearing more aftershocks, have slept outside in the streets of the ancient city of Marrakech or under makeshift canopies in devastated Atlas Mountain towns like Moulay Brahim.

"I was asleep when the earthquake struck. I could not escape because the roof fell on me. I was trapped. I was saved by my neighbours who cleared the rubble with their bare hands,” said Fatna Bechar. “Now, I am living with them in their house because mine was completely destroyed."

It is estimated that 300,000 people have been affected, according to The United Nations.

Aid offers poured in from around the world but groups said the government has not made a broad appeal for help and accepted only limited foreign assistance.

The Interior Ministry said it was accepting search and rescue-focused international aid from Spain, Qatar, Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

Britain sent a 60-person search team with four dogs, medical staff, listening devices and concrete-cutting gear.

It says it bypassed offers from French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden.

Despite this, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna announced 5 million euros (£4,287,175) in emergency funds for Moroccan and international non-governmental groups rushing to help survivors.

Spanish emergency search and rescue unit board a plane to help with the earthquake rescue in Morocco. Credit: AP

French towns and cities have offered more than 2 million euros (£1,714,870) in aid, and popular performers are also collecting donations.

"We stand ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Moroccan people," Biden said Sunday on a trip to Vietnam.

Friday’s earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 and hit at 11.11pm, the USGS said.

It was North African country’s strongest quake in over 120 years, its shallow epicentre made it more destructive and it toppled buildings in regions.

Women chat inside a tent after they were displaced by the earthquake, in the town of Amizmiz. Credit: AP

Though such powerful tremors are rare, it is not yet the country’s deadliest.

Just over 60 years ago, it was rocked by a magnitude 5.8 quake that killed over 12,000 people on its western coast, where the city of Agadir, southwest of Marrakech, crumbled.

That quake prompted changes in construction rules in Morocco, but many buildings, especially rural homes, are not built to withstand such tremors.

There had not been any earthquakes stronger than magnitude 6.0 within 310 miles of Friday's tremor in at least a century, according to the US Geological Survey.

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