Rutte expresses condolences after Morocco earthquake, death toll climbs over 1,000
Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte has conveyed his condolences to Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch after Morocco was hit by an earthquake on Friday evening. The death toll after the major earthquake has risen to 1,037, according to Moroccan state television. It was previously announced that the earthquake on Friday had killed at least 632 people. Furthermore, around 1,204 people were injured. here are currently no indications that Dutch nationals are among the victims of the massive earthquake in southern Morocco, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
The quake occurred shortly after 11 p.m. (local time) on Friday near the town of Ighil in the High Atlas Mountains, about 70 kilometers southwest of the city of Marrakech. It had a magnitude of 6.8 and was located at a depth of 18.5 kilometers, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.
The provinces of al-Haouz, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant were particularly affected by the earthquake, where buildings collapsed or were damaged. As a result, people had to spent the night outdoors. However, the exact extent of the disaster is not yet known. The search for victims under the rubble is ongoing. A local official said earlier that most of the fatalities were in mountainous areas that were difficult to access.
“Terrible news coming in about the devastating earthquake that hit Morocco. My thoughts are with the many victims of this disaster and with the local emergency services.”
Terrible news coming in about the devastating earthquake that hit Morocco. My thoughts are with the many victims of this disaster and with the local emergency services. I conveyed my sincere condolences to Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch.— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) September 9, 2023
The new Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot also expressed her condolences. “Devastated to learn about the earthquake in Morocco. My thoughts are with those who lost loved ones, the many injured and all others affected. The Netherlands is ready to assist where possible,” the minister posted on X.
Devastated to learn about the earthquake in Morocco. My thoughts are with those who lost loved ones, the many injured and all others affected. The Netherlands is ready to assist where possible. @MarocDiplomatie— Hanke Bruins Slot (@HankeBruinsSlot) September 9, 2023
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely monitoring developments and is in contact with the embassy in Rabat, a spokesperson said. The ministry has received phone calls asking for help. This often concerns questions about the situation in the disaster area and whether people can still travel there.
Also, the royal couple, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, sympathize with the victims of the earthquake in Morocco. In a statement, the royal couple said that they and "the many Dutch people who are now in fear for their loved ones" are in their thoughts.
"Marrakech and the surrounding area have been hit by a devastating earthquake. We sympathize with the families of the victims in Morocco and with the many Dutch people who are now in fear for their loved ones. You are in our thoughts," the royal couple said.
However, the Netherlands is not yet sending a team of rescue workers to Morocco.
"For any deployment, we rely on a request for assistance from the country concerned. This can be made directly to the Netherlands, through the EU or the UN. Without such a request, we are never deployed," said Urban Search and Rescue (USAR).
Voor een eventuele inzet zijn we afhankelijk van een hulpverzoek van het getroffen land. Dat kan direct bij Nederland binnenkomen, via de EU of de VN. Zonder zo’n verzoek worden we nooit ingezet.— USAR.NL (@USARNL) September 9, 2023
The USAR team consists of search and rescue specialists as well as nurses, doctors, and construction experts. They are also usually accompanied by dogs to search for survivors or bodies under the rubble of collapsed buildings. Normally, team members are employed by the police, firefighters, or security regions, among others. Earlier this year, rescue teams were deployed after the massive earthquake in southern Turkey.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times