Rescue Teams Shocked Morocco Did Not Accept Help

( – A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck south-central Morocco just after 11 p.m. local time on September 8. The quake’s epicenter was located about 46 miles southwest of Marrakesh near Ighil. Officials have confirmed nearly 3,000 deaths and 5,500 injuries as of September 13. Despite the natural disaster’s magnitude, some rescue teams were shocked that federal officials didn’t accept their help offer. However, it appears they may have a good reason for doing so. Here’s how things played out.

ABC News published a report discussing the frustration rescue teams throughout Europe experienced when Morocco didn’t open its borders to their offer of outside assistance in the wake of the deadly quake.

For example, a group of French volunteers with Rescuers Without Borders pulled together a search-and-rescue team, sonar devices, and other gear to detect people trapped in the rubble. However, the team’s founder and coordinator, Arnaud Fraisse, told reporters that Moroccan officials never gave them a “green light.”

Likewise, officials rejected offers of assistance from other groups in Europe and as far away as the United States. They did accept help from rescue crews offered by government officials from the United Kingdom, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

As it turns out, the Morrocan government had reasons for declining the offers. The earthquake’s epicenter and the concentration damage, injuries, and fatalities occurred in remote villages in the Atlas Mountains in the Al Haouz region.

Access to the disaster zone requires difficult travel along dirt roads and tracks that are difficult to navigate under normal circumstances. Putting this problem in context, the distance from Ighil to Agadir, the nearest port city, is roughly 106 miles, two hours and 46 minutes away as the crow flies. However, due to the winding nature of the roadways, it takes three hours and 57 minutes to drive there under the best of circumstances.

Moroccan officials have obvious concerns that allowing a large number of rescuers into the region could create blockages on the already strained roadways, creating more problems than their presence solves. ABC News reported that search-and-rescue experts agree that getting too much help can become more of a hindrance than a help without proper coordination.

It remains unclear if and when Morocco will accept more assistance from outside groups.

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