In the hope of finding survivors three days after the severe earthquake in Morocco, the emergency services have further intensified their rescue efforts.

As people spent a third straight night on the streets of Marrakesh and elsewhere fearing more aftershocks, soldiers and foreign aid teams began moving into remote mountain villages in trucks and helicopters. Military vehicles loaded with bulldozers and logistical equipment tried to clear roads from landslides in rugged terrain so that ambulances could get through, the online newspaper Morocco World News reported.

Hundreds of people still missing

For the search and rescue forces, it’s a race against time: experts give a guideline of 72 hours during which a person can go without water for the longest time. Hundreds of people were still missing in Morocco.

The magnitude 6.8 earthquake, the worst in Morocco in decades, struck late Friday evening. Since then, the North African country, where earthquakes generally occur only rarely, has been hit by further aftershocks. According to official information to date, at least 2,122 people were killed and at least 2,421 other people were injured.

Foreign rescue teams in action

Search and rescue teams from Spain and Great Britain have started operating in Morocco. They are currently supporting local emergency services in affected areas, the Moroccan news agency MAP reported. Britain sent 60 search and rescue experts with equipment and four search dogs to Morocco to support the Moroccan-led operations, British Ambassador Simon Martin announced on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). A special Spanish military unit with search dogs also flew to Morocco the day before.

Although several countries, including Germany, offered assistance, Morocco initially only accepted support from four countries. The Interior Ministry said authorities had carried out a detailed assessment of local needs. It was taken into account that a lack of coordination in such situations would lead to adverse results, reported the Moroccan news site Hespress.

Therefore, they initially “responded to the offers of support from the friendly countries of Spain, Qatar, Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates,” the statement continued.

Government Special Relief Fund

Saudi Arabia also wants to support Morocco. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have ordered the establishment of an airlift to deliver aid to Morocco, the state news agency SPA reported late on Sunday evening. The two Arab countries traditionally maintain friendly relations. According to a report in the English-language newspaper Arab News, a Saudi search and rescue team is expected to support the rescue workers.

Meanwhile, the government in Morocco announced a special relief fund for the needy population. This was intended, among other things, to cover costs for securing damaged houses, the Moroccan news site Hespress reported, citing a government spokesman.

There was no information about the amount of the fund. It should be made up of funds from public institutions and voluntary contributions from the private sector, it said. In addition to local hospitals and ambulance services, more than 1,000 doctors and 1,500 nurses were mobilized to provide medical care for the more than 2,000 injured.