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Qatar mobilises support for Morocco as earthquake death toll surpasses 2,000

Morocco has officially declared the earthquake as the “most violent” to ever occur in the country in a century.

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has dispatched a rescue team to Morocco on Saturday in response to the fatal earthquake that struck the country, claiming more than 2,000 lives. 

“The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has directed sending rescue teams and urgent medical assistance to the sisterly Kingdom of Morocco, to help with the relief efforts after the earthquake that struck several Moroccan cities and provinces,” Qatar’s state news agency (QNA) reported.

The deadly 6.8 earthquake hit 72kms southwest of Marrakesh on Friday evening, followed by aftershocks felt across different cities. By Sunday midnight, the death toll had reached 2,012, as per the latest figures by Morocco’s Ministry of Interior.

Hundreds of residents have also been forced to flee their homes as the quake reduced buildings to rubble.

The Moroccan government also declared three days of national mourning on Saturday.

Morocco has officially declared the earthquake as the “most violent” to ever occur in the country in a century. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) also stated that such earthquakes in Morocco are of rare occurrence. 

“Since 1900, there have been no earthquakes M6 [magnitude 6] or larger within 500km of this earthquake, and only nine M5 [magnitude 5] and larger,” the USGS said on its website on Saturday.

Qatar’s amir sent his condolences to Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Saturday morning just hours after the earthquake struck the country.

“My sincere condolences to my brother, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and to the brotherly people of the Kingdom of Morocco for the victims of the earthquake that struck various cities of the country, praying to God Almighty to bestow His mercy on the victims, and to grant the injured a speedy recovery. May God protect Morocco and its people from all harm,” Sheikh Tamim said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

On the same day, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani held a phone call with Morocco’s Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch. The top Qatari official expressed the Gulf state’s readiness to provide assistance on the ground.

“His Excellency affirmed the full solidarity of the State of Qatar with the Kingdom of Morocco and its standing by its brotherly people in this painful situation, and its full readiness to provide all necessary assistance to the affected areas to support their recovery from the effects of the earthquake,” read a statement by Doha’s foreign ministry.

On the same day, Qatar Charity announced a 5 million QAR donation to support relief efforts as the Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) pledged 1 million QAR “as an urgent response” for necessary supplies.

Meanwhile, a number of countries have dispatched vital aid to Morocco alongside search and rescue teams.

On Saturday, Algeria announced that it will open its air space for humanitarian and medical aid flights to Morocco. Algiers had severed ties with Rabat in 2021 amid a long-running dispute that involved a range of issues, including the Western Sahara territory.

Turkiye also said it prepared 265 aid workers from the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), the Turkish Red Crescent and other organisations to provide assistance on the ground in Morocco.

In February, Turkiye and Syria were hit by the worst earthquake to ever occur within a century, killing more than 50,000 people.

The President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan ordered the launch of an air bridge to deliver relief materials to Morocco.

Separately, the United States’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his country’s preparation to provide assistance to the North African country.

“I express my deep sadness at the loss of life and destruction caused by yesterday’s earthquake in Morocco and extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of those affected. The United States is ready to provide any necessary assistance as Morocco responds to this tragedy,” Blinken said.