Moroccan quake survivors recount their tales of loss

تم النشر: 2 مارس 2004 0:00 CET

Rana Sidani in Al-Houciema

“They were crushed,” said Mohamed Marzouk. Everything is destroyed. Nothing is left.”

The 65-year-old lost eight members of his family in the earthquake that rocked the region around Al-Houceima, on Morocco’s northern coast on 22 February.

“My brother, his wife and their six children were asleep. They never woke up,” he says. They were among the 572 people who died in the tremor.

Mohamed was sitting with his neighbours in the village of Ait-Kamara watching the Moroccan Red Crescent Society (MRCS) mobile clinic providing basic health care to those affected by the disaster. In just a few hours, more than 30 people were treated there.

In this region, one of the worst affected by the earthquake, everybody has a story to tell. Mohamed’s next door neighbours lost two youngsters. Amal, 13, and her 11-year-old brother were found dead after a six-hour search.

In every corner of the village of 1,500 families, you will find sadness. Ninety per cent of homes have been damaged and 300 of its inhabitants perished.

“With my other sons, I manage to remove the stones and reach Abdoul Rahman, my oldest son, but it was too late. He wasn’t breathing,” said Idris Marzouk, 62. “He was a good farmer and was helping me to support our family.”

The traumatized father sits, with tears in his eyes, on the rubble of his home watching his cow and his donkey, both badly injured in the earthquake and not far from death.

Idris cries for his lost son, but also the animals, which were the only form of capital he had left. “I will kill them to put an end to their suffering.”

The children of Ait-Kamara, scared by the incessant aftershocks, look for any way to play. Their favourite game is running after relief helicopters. They compete to see who can scream loudest, calling to the aid workers to land in their neighbourhood.

It is a kind of therapy, allowing them to give vent to the trauma they feel at having lost relatives.

In earthquakes, not all the stories are sad. Fatima Mousawi pulled her one-year-old son Ousama alive from the rubble. “I feel as if he has been born again,” she said.