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Should tourists still visit Morocco in earthquake aftermath?

Should tourists still visit Morocco in earthquake aftermath?

The Moroccoearthquake ripped through the Atlas Mountains on Friday 8 September, leaving death and destruction in its wake in one of the most beautiful and remote regions of the country. As the dust began to settle it became clear that the worst hit areas were right in the heart of the High Atlas around Ijoukak and Talaat N’Yaqoub. Although important tourist areas like Marrakech and Imlil were in the quake zone, they survived more or less intact.

Relief efforts were mobilised immediately and, by the morning, the Moroccan police and army had reached the towns and villages along the main road to the centre of the devastation. Around 3,000 people have died in the disaster and many more have been left homeless as traditional clay-built houses collapsed like packs of cards. Newer concrete houses appeared able to withstand the force more, although if they were near the epicentre they crumbled too.

The very beauty of the landscape, which attracts so many visitors, has been its undoing. Small hamlets strung across the peaks, sometimes a day or two days’ journey from a road, were very difficult to reach.

Many traditional clay houses didn’t survive the quake

(Alice Morrison)

Now, a week on, almost all known villages have received aid and support. Tented camps have been built in every community for the homeless. The food situation is good and food is being dropped by helicopter to the most isolated. All main roads have been cleared and government and charitable aid is getting to the right people.

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Miraculously, no tourists were killed in the earthquake. Morvern Mackenzie was staying in Toubkal refuge at the base of Morocco’s highest mountain when the earthquake struck and spent the following night in Imlil with her guide, Mohamed Aitidar, and his family. She said: “The love and kindness we were show during this time was unbelievable.”

Colleen Cassar, tour leader host for Roam Like Queens, was in Fes with 11 travellers from Australia when the quake happened. “I woke up to our building squeaking,” she said. In the morning, she realised what had happened and consulted the guests. The group is well away from the afflicted areas; all but one decided to stay. “I feel conflicted because here I am prancing around the country having a great time. But I am continuing to put out a positive message about Morocco. It…

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