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Direct Relief Assessing Needs in Morocco Following Major Earthquake

Organization stands ready to provide aid for immediate search and rescue efforts and acute health needs.



The M6.8 earthquake struck the high Atlas Mountains region of Oukaïmedene, approximately 40-miles southwest of the historical city of Marrakesh. (Sources: USGS, WorldPop, Natural Earth)

A powerful M6.8 earthquake struck Morocco Friday evening local time in the high Atlas Mountains region of Oukaïmedene, approximately 40-miles southwest of the historical city of Marrakesh.

More than 1,000 people have been killed and over 1,200 are injured. These numbers are expected to rise in the coming days, as Moroccan urban search and rescue (USAR) continue their initial assessment and are able to gain further access into hard to reach, remote areas of the country.

Immediate and Near-Term Response

In the days immediately following an earthquake of this magnitude, the priority is to bolster the availability of medical items needed to treat a range of traumatic injuries caused by falling debris, crush injuries, fractures, lacerations and search and rescue activities. A continued flow of primary care items to help keep people with chronic health conditions will also be necessary, especially while local resources are reallocated for emergency response.

At this time, the Moroccan government has not requested international assistance, however many governments, including the United States, have offers of support pending.

Direct Relief is assessing what immediate and near-term medical needs are in coordination with local officials and agencies to ensure efficiency and avoid bottlenecks that can occur when efforts to bring in personnel and material assistance converge in an area with damaged infrastructure.

Direct Relief has made initial contact with our network of health care organizations and providers in Morocco, including the Ministry of Public Health of Morocco, International Office of Migration in Morocco, the Morocco Country Office of Eli Lilly, the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and Foundation Lalli Salma.

Injury and Disease Risks From Earthquakes

Earthquakes typically cause various blunt trauma and orthopedic injuries, such as broken bones, lacerations, and crush syndrome from being trapped under heavy debris. An overwhelming number of injuries in the initial moments of an emergency can create an acute need for health personnel, medical supplies, blood, and medicines.

In addition to the acute medical needs resulting from the earthquake, people can become ill due to being displaced and lacking shelter, compromised water and sanitation systems, lack of refrigeration, and untreated injuries. These circumstances can lead to bacterial infections and disease outbreaks among people who are forced into temporary shelters.

Direct Relief will continue to assess the situation and what needs exist across the impacted region in the coming days.

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