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Red Cross appeals for over $100 mn to help quake-hit Morocco, death toll rises to 2,900

Red Cross appeals for over $100 mn to help quake-hit Morocco, death toll rises to 2,900
September 12, 2023 Web Desk

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) - The Red Cross appealed on Tuesday for more than $100 million to provide desperately needed assistance in Morocco, days after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 2,900 people.

"We are seeking 100 million Swiss francs ($112 million) to be able to deliver on the most pressing needs at this time," Caroline Holt, global director of operations at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told reporters in Geneva.

She said the funds were needed for "health, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter relief items and basic needs", stressing: "We need to make sure we avoid a second wave of disaster."

Search and rescue teams from Morocco and abroad continued on Tuesday to dig through the rubble of broken mud-brick homes, hoping for signs of life in a race against time. Friday's 6.8-magnitude quake was the most powerful in Morocco on record.

It was the most deadly to hit the North African country since a 1960 earthquake destroyed Agadir on the Atlantic coast, killing between 12,000 and 15,000 people. Overall, at least 2,862 people have died and more than 2,500 been injured in the latest tragedy, according to an official toll issued late on Monday.

Morocco has authorised rescue teams to come to its aid from Britain, Qatar, Spain and the United Arab Emirates but has so far declined offers from several other nations, including the United States and Israel. Holt on Tuesday defended the seemingly slow pace at which the kingdom was welcoming in more international aid.

"This is an overwhelming event... This would have overwhelmed many societies," she stressed. "Coordination and careful consideration at this moment in time is key," she said. "(It is) extremely complex accessing these hard to reach areas the needs are still evolving."

"So I think that the Moroccan government is taking careful steps with regard to opening up and accepting bilateral offers of support ... (and is) focusing on that search and rescue window before that window unfortunately closes, which is certainly in the coming hours."