Moroccan village smashed by earthquake

Aftermath of a powerful earthquake in Morocco

By Ahmed Eljechtimi and Abdulhak Balhak

ASNI, Morocco (Reuters) - Abdellatif Ait Bella lay on the ground in his Moroccan mountain village, barely able to move or speak, his head bandaged from wounds inflicted by falling debris during Friday's earthquake that destroyed his home and devastated his community.

His wife, Saida Bodchich, sat by him on Saturday along with his mother, as they prepared to spend a second night in the open air of the High Atlas mountains, 20 km (12 miles) from Morocco's highest peak, Mount Toubkal.

"We have no house to take him to and have had no food since yesterday," said Bodchich, fearing for the future of their family of six with Ait Bella, the sole breadwinner through his work as a labourer, so badly injured.

Around them in the village of Tansghart in the Asni area, close to the 6.8 magnitude earthquake's remote epicentre, nearly all the buildings - traditional structures of mud brick, stone and rough wooden beams - had sustained damage from the quake.

The village, on the side of a valley where the road from Marrakech rises up into the High Atlas, was the worst hit of any Reuters journalists saw in rural areas south of Marrakech where officials said most of the more than 1,000 deaths had occurred.

Its once-pretty houses, clinging to a steep hillside, were cracked open by the shaking ground. Those still standing are missing chunks of wall or plaster. Two mosque minarets fell, along with many traditional houses.

"We want to live decently but we can rely on nobody but God," said Bodchich.

The village is already mourning ten deaths including two teenage girls, an inhabitant said, and others like Ait Bella are badly injured. Survivors face another tough night in the open.

(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi and Abdulhak Balhak; Writing by Angus McDowall)