Red Crescent comforts victims of Casablanca bomb blasts

Publicado: 19 mayo 2003 0:00 CET

Sébastien Carliez

Emergency teams of the Moroccan Red Crescent (MRC) were immediately mobilized to assist victims of last Friday night's (16 May) deadly bomb explosions in the country's largest city, Casablanca.

At least 41 people were killed and about 100 more injured in the five blasts that hit Morocco's commercial capital within 30 minutes of each other.

"Thirty experienced volunteers came very quickly on the scene with six of our ambulances," said Dr Badreddine Bensaoud, secretary general of the MRC. "They administered first aid to the wounded and helped their transportation to the general teaching hospital of the city."

Bensaoud was himself one of first doctors to arrive on site, and participated in the task force put in place by the Civil Defence with other Government authorities.

The volunteers worked all night long and until 1600 hours on Saturday to help people affected by the blasts, contact their families and provide them with comfort and psycho-social support.

“It is the first time Morocco has been confronted with a disaster of this kind," commented Bensaoud, admitting that a lot more will have to be done to psychologically support the victims.

After the emergency phase, the MRC teams helped dispatch the wounded to different hospitals in the region. On Sunday afternoon, four ambulance teams were still on duty at Casablanca’s main hospital, informing the families and transporting patients back home after they had received treatment.

The targets of the bomb attacks included a Jewish community centre, a busy Spanish restaurant and social club, a five-star international hotel and an Italian restaurant located close to the Belgian consulate.

The Casablanca explosions came just four days after a coordinated series of bombings in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, killed 34 people and left 200 more injured.

Bensaoud said that the MRC response was very much appreciated by the public and the authorities. He expressed his gratitude to the Federation for its recent efforts to provide adequate training to the MRC personnel.

Last February, the Federation trained 50 MRC volunteers on how to assist victims of disasters. During the same month, the Federation and the Red Crescent also participated in the first workshop on disaster management ever organized by the Moroccan government.

"The MRC could become a model for other Red Crescent Societies in North Africa," commented Abdelqader Abu Awad, the Federation's regional disaster preparedness coordinator.

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