While rescue workers carefully remove earth and rock, other helpers comfort the desperate mother, who is worried about her daughter under the rubble. Whether the 20-year-old will survive the devastating earthquake in Morocco, which has already claimed the lives of more than 2,100 people, is still completely unclear on Sunday evening.

In order for the young woman to have a chance, the helpers in the village of Ouirgane in the south of Marrakech have to proceed with great caution. The rescue is therefore progressing very slowly, while at the same time the window of opportunity for those trapped under the rubble is closing. Experts give a guideline of 72 hours in which a person can go without water for the longest time.

Great despair among the people

Not far from the rescue site, an exhausted-looking man prays in front of ruined houses. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the road that runs through Ouirgane, several residents are fighting over food and water that emergency services have just brought.

It took a long time for official help to begin in the village and neighboring towns. The desperation among people is therefore great. At first only private helpers came, the residents report. Many roads were initially blocked by broken rocks. As a result, the helpers found it difficult to make headway in the remote mountainous regions.

On Sunday afternoon, large numbers of army trucks finally rolled along the narrow, steep winding roads south of Marrakesh. Soldiers are setting up tent cities for people who have lost their homes or fear their homes will collapse due to further tremors.

Hundreds are missing

The magnitude 6.8 quake shook Morocco on Saturday night. It was the worst in the country in decades. More than 2,400 people were also injured. Hundreds are also missing.

On a road leading to Marrakech, residents asked drivers on Sunday evening to allow them to briefly charge their cell phones in their cars so that they could contact relatives and friends. “I’m fine, thank God,” Fatma excitedly reports to her relatives on the other end of the phone.

In Marrakesh itself there is little evidence of the catastrophe at night. Despite a lot of damage after the earthquake in the city, the caf├ęs and restaurants in the city, which is also popular with foreign tourists, are well filled. The news from the villages, which are about an hour and a half away by car and which are broadcast on screens in many restaurants, seems very far away here.