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ActionAid UK launches emergency Morocco earthquake appeal

Charity ActionAid UK has launched an emergency Morocco earthquake appeal to support the communities most affected by the disaster.

The magnitude 6.8 tremor late on Friday damaged buildings from villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakesh.

The official death toll from the earthquake was more than 2,000 people by Sunday evening.

The full toll from the most powerful quake to hit Morocco in 120 years will not be known until rescuers complete the challenging journey to the remote mountain villages that were the hardest hit.

ActionAid UK has launched an emergency appeal to help those need of shelter, food and clothing.

Kirsten Sutherland, humanitarian programme co-ordinator at ActionAid Spain, which has worked in Morocco for more than 20 years, said many families have “lost everything”.

“In just minutes, the lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been turned upside down,” she said.

“Many families have lost everything – their loved ones, their homes and their belongings. Damage to infrastructure is hampering access to information and to affected communities, especially in remote areas.

“Our objective is to support those communities that have been most badly affected by the earthquake.”

Morocco Earthquake
Tents set up in the town of Amizmiz (Mosa’ab Elshamy/AP)

It comes as the UK Government has sent 60 search and rescue specialists, four search dogs and rescue equipment to Morocco.

While an emergency medical team has also been deployed to assess the existing healthcare capacity and the extent of the damage

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “The UK is sending immediate support to Morocco including a team of 60 search and rescue specialists and four rescue dogs to assist with the rescue effort.

“I remain in contact with Foreign Minister Bourita and offer my deepest sympathies to the people of Morocco after this tragic event.”

University student Nawal Ait Idmou, 20, who has lost friends in the earthquake, told the PA news agency she feels helpless but “has to be strong” until she hears from family members.

Ms Idmou said her family are without electricity and unable to recharge mobile phones.

“It’s like we are in a dream because we are so far from our families,” she said.

“People are dying, people we know, like our friends, and we can’t do anything for them.

“At the moment, there is no electricity. People’s phones are dead.

“I talked with (my family) in the morning, but in the afternoon no one replied – my brother, my father, anyone in my family, no one knows what’s happening.”

She said aid is sparse, particularly medical supplies, and transporting supplies is difficult because of blocked roads and heavy traffic.