The death toll from Morocco’s devastating earthquake has risen to 2,497, the interior ministry said on Monday, as search and rescue efforts continue.
Another 2,476 people were injured, the ministry said, updating a previous toll of 2,122 dead and 2,400 wounded.
Moroccan soldiers and aid teams in trucks and helicopters battled Monday to reach remote mountain towns devastated by a monstrous earthquake that killed more than 2,400 people, with survivors desperate for help to find loved ones feared trapped under the rubble.
Moroccan officials have so far accepted government-offered aid from just four countries — Spain, Qatar, Britain and the United Arab Emirates — and some foreign aid teams said they were awaiting permission to deploy. Morocco’s Interior Ministry says officials want to avoid a lack of coordination that “would be counterproductive.”
The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people were affected by Friday night’s magnitude 6.8 quake, made more dangerous by its relatively shallow depth.
Most of the destruction and deaths were in Al Haouz province in the High Atlas Mountains, where homes folded in on themselves and steep, winding roads became clogged with rubble. Residents sometimes cleared away rocks themselves.
People cheered when trucks full of soldiers arrived Sunday in the town of Amizmiz. But they pleaded for more help.
“It’s a catastrophe,’’ said survivor Salah Ancheu in the town where mountainside homes and a mosque’s minaret collapsed.
“We don’t know what the future is. The aid remains insufficient,” the 28-year-old said.
Army units deployed Monday along a paved road leading from Amizmiz to remoter mountain villages. State news agency MAP reported that bulldozers and other equipment were being used to clear the routes. Tourists and residents lined up to give blood. In some villages, people wept as boys and helmet-clad police carried the dead through streets.
Aid offers poured in from around the world. About 100 teams made up of a total of 3,500 rescuers are registered with a U.N. platform and ready to deploy in Morocco when asked, Rescuers Without Borders said.
A Spanish search-and-rescue team arrived in Marrakech and headed to the rural Talat N’Yaaqoub, according to Spain’s Emergency Military Unit. Britain sent a 60-person search team with four dogs, medical staff, listening devices and concrete-cutting gear.Rea