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Friday,  April 19, 2024 12:12 PM 

Morocco earthquake: 2,100+ dead; the latest from G Adventures & Intrepid

  • Other
  •   09-11-2023  9:09 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Morocco earthquake: 2,100+ dead; the latest from G Adventures & Intrepid
Volunteers with Israel's United Hatzalah offer help in the mountain villages of Tizi Ouaddou. A magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit Morocco late Friday (Sept. 8). (X/@UnitedHatzalah)
Pax Global Media

Rescuers and relief workers are on the ground in Morocco after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake rocked remote villages in the Moroccan High Atlas Mountains southwest of Marrakech on Friday (Sept. 8).

Reports say at least 2,122 people have been killed and 2,421 have been injured – at least 1,400 critically.

On Sunday (Sept. 10), as soldiers and relief workers delivered water and supplies to mountain villages, many of which are now in ruins, a 3.9-magnitude aftershock followed.

The roads leading into villages impacted by the quake are narrow and winding, and in some places, boulders and rubble have blocked access, NBC News reports.

Relief workers now face the challenge of reaching remote communities in the rugged High Atlas.

Rahul Singh, executive director of Ontario-based humanitarian aid organization GlobalMedic, said teams are on the way from Canada to help workers in Morocco with rescue efforts, CBC News reports.

"The number one top issue is going to be ensuring that people that are affected have access to clean drinking water," Singh told CBC. "Without clean drinking water a lot of people will get sick, the vulnerable unfortunately will die, and we can't have that secondary calamity occur."

Morocco has since declared three days of mourning and King Mohammed VI called for prayers for the dead to be held at mosques across the country on Sunday.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300,000 people have been affected by the disaster, which is said to be Morocco's deadliest earthquake since 1960 when a quake killed at least 12,000 people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

"The next 24 to 48 hours will be critical in terms of saving lives," Caroline Holt, global director of operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a statement.

Marrakech moves forward

The quake’s centre was roughly 72 kilometres from Marrakech, a vibrant city, popular with tourists, known for its sandstone-coloured buildings, medieval mosques, palaces and bustling medina of snake charmers, folk dancers, and street food vendors.

Tourism in the ancient city, it appears, has continued as Marrakesh is "caught between the desire to mourn the losses of families and friends, and the need for economic survival on its traditional tourism business," noted the Globe and Mail in a dispatch from Morocco. 

The city’s residents are trying to keep tourism going, even if signs of the earthquake are everywhere, the report notes. 

July and August are slower months for tourism in Morocco. However, September is when things typically pick up again, putting tourism-dependant vendors in a vulnerable position if tourists decide to cancel their trips to Marrakesh following the earthquake.

The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) issued a statement over the weekend as reports of the earthquake began to circulate.

“ACTA’s thoughts are with the people of Morocco, especially those impacted by today’s devastating earthquake,” the association wrote on social media on Saturday (Sept. 9).  

G Adventures reroutes some tours

In a statement to PAX, G Adventures, which sells Morocco, said communications are still down in some effected areas. . 

"We have received word from our tour guides on the ground that all our travellers and staff are accounted for and safe," the company noted. 

G Adventures has cancelled five tours that planned to visit the areas most impacted, departing up to Sept. 16, 2023.  

These are the DCTW230908 and DCTW230915 (Mount Toubkal Weekend Trek, departing Sept. 8 and 15 the DCCT230908 and DCCT230915 (Climb Mount Toubkal, departing Sept. 8 and 15 and the DCMQ230914 (Four Days in Marrakech, departing Sept. 14). 

All other departures in Morocco are scheduled to run as planned, with minor modifications to trip itineraries in order to avoid any affected areas. 

Soumia Ait Bendawad, regional operations manager Morocco & The Middle East, based in Marrakech, said G Adventures is currently running tours, except those travelling to the areas most impacted, which are those visiting Mount Toubkal. 

“We are rerouting tours heading to Imlil and Ait Ben Haddou to avoid these destinations. We are also offering alternative experiences in Marrakech to avoid the Medina, which has sadly been impacted by the earthquake," Ait Bendawad said. “The immediate need is to keep these areas clear and let the emergency services fulfill their role, and we will assess as and when it is appropriate to resume trips.

“Bringing tourism income back to the affected areas will be vital to support the local communities, but only when it is the appropriate time, and we do not yet know when that will be. The other cities we visit are safe. For any travellers who wish to change their travel plans we are helping them do so. This approach allows us to continue running our operations but still supports tourism in Morocco, which is essential in such times.”

“We are advising all guests to establish contact with their embassies to register their presence and will release more information as it becomes available."

G Adventures added: "Our thoughts are with the Moroccan people at this time." 

Intrepid launches emergency appeal

Intrepid Travel has launched an emergency appeal through its not-for-profit, the Intrepid Foundation, committing to double all donations up to AUD $100,000.

All funds raised will go directly to grassroots organizations to provide emergency relief and support in Morocco, according to a press release.

The Intrepid Foundation has established the appeal to provide support to its long-term local NGO partners in Morocco, Education for All and the High Atlas Foundation who are on the ground working with local communities.

This includes providing those impacted with essential provisions such as food, shelter, clean water, and medical supplies.

“The earthquake in Morocco is the most devastating to hit the country in over a century, impacting more than 300,000 lives in the communities surrounding the High Atlas Mountains and beyond. While many of us cannot even begin to understand this level of loss, we can, by supporting this appeal, directly supply those impacted with emergency relief and support,” stated Biheng Zhang, general manager of the Intrepid Foundation.       

To donate, visit the Morocco Earthquake Appeal here

Intrepid says Morocco is one of its “biggest destinations” globally.

“Intrepid was founded on the idea of benefiting both the travelers and the people in the communities we visit. Through this relief effort, we hope to give back to the country that has given so much to our travel community,” said Zina Bencheikh, managing director of EMEA for Intrepid Travel. “My heart is with Morocco, my home, and one of the most special places in the world.”

Intrepid offers 33 tours in Morocco, with a major office in Marrakech and nearly 80 local team members.

The tour operator said it had 66 tour groups and approximately 650 customers on tours in the country at the time of the earthquake, “all of whom are accounted for.”

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