THE OVERNIGHT death toll released by the Moroccan authorities after Friday night’s devastating earthquake rose to at least 2,012 people, with another 2,059 reported injuries. Meanwhile, in Spain relief efforts were being mobilised on Saturday to assist with recovery efforts, including firefighters from across the country. 

The earthquake, measuring 7 on the Richter scale, struck at 11.11pm local time, with its epicentre in the small town of Ighil, some 72 kilometres southwest of Marrakesh. The worst-affected areas were Al Haouz, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant, according to agencies and Spanish press reports.

The Moroccan Interior Ministry reported that there had been at least 1,220 seriously injured victims, but that they were being taken to local hospitals. 

Social media posts on Saturday showed crowds of Moroccans waiting in line to donate blood as part of the relief efforts in motion across the affected areas. 

Meanwhile, some 30 firefighters from Andalusia were preparing on Saturday to travel to the North African country to assist with the rescue efforts. 

Three units from Huelva will be helping on the ground via the organisations Firefighters United Without Borders and Firefighters for the World. 

They will be taking a canine unit with them as well as light extraction equipment. 

Firefighters from Madrid, Cordoba and Murcia also joined the cause on Saturday, via Firefighters United Without Borders. 

The regional premier of Catalunya, Pere Aragones, on Saturday offered the assistance of the region’s fire crews to the Moroccan ambassador in Spain, Karima Benyaich.  

Spain’s Catholic NGO Caritas last night activated an emergency campaign aimed at channelling donations from Spaniards to the affected areas. Their International Cooperation team has been in touch with its branch in Rabat in order to offer support during the emergency, online daily El Confidencial reported.

The International Red Cross, meanwhile, said on Saturday that the coming 48 hours would be critical for the relief efforts and to save lives. 

Last night, Spain’s caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sent a message of support to the stricken country via Twitter. “The members of the EU Council convey our sincere condolences to the King of Morocco and all the Moroccan people,” he wrote. “As friends and allies of Morocco, we are prepared to offer our assistance wherever we can be of help. All of our solidarity,” the Socialist Party leader added. 

Spain’s King Felipe VI sent a telegram to his Moroccan counterpart, Mohammed VI, expressing his ‘devastation’ over the ‘violent earthquake’. 

“In my name, and that of the government and the Spanish people, I want to convey our deepest feeling of pain over the terrible consequences of this disaster as well as our most heartfelt condolences,” read the text, as reported by news agency Europa Press

Spain’s top-flight football league La Liga also decreed a minute of silence to be observed before games, in tribute to the victims of the earthquake. 

The earthquake is the worst registered in Morocco in terms of the number of victims since a major tremor that hit the region of Al Hoceima in the north of the country back in February 2004. That natural disaster killed 629 people and left 926 injured. 

There are 18,000 Spaniards officially living in Morocco, but as of Sunday the Foreign Ministry was not reporting any Spanish nationals among the dead or injured.

Read more:

Powerful earthquake leaves at least 820 dead in Morocco

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