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Spain Sends 56 Rescuers to Quake-hit Morocco

Building rubble blocks a street in Mzouda village in Morocco's Chichaoua province following a devastating earthquake, on September 10, 2023. - Moroccans on September 10 mourned the victims of an earthquake, the strongest-ever to hit the country, that killed more than 2,000 people, as rescue teams raced to find survivors trapped in the rubble of flattened villages. (Photo by Fethi Belaid / AFP)

Spain on Sunday sent a plane with 56 rescuers and four search dogs to quake-hit Morocco after it received a formal request for help from Rabat, the defence ministry said. An A400 military plane took off from a base in the northeastern city of Zaragoza with the team bound for Marrakesh to “help in the search and rescue of survivors of the devastating earthquake suffered in our neighbouring country,” the ministry said in a post on X, formerly called Twitter.

The rescuers belong to Spain’s Military Emergencies Unit (UME), a body of the armed forces that was created to intervene quickly in emergency situations such as forest fires, floods and earthquakes. A UME unit was sent to Turkey in February following a devastating earthquake and helped rescue six people, including a mother and two children, according to Spain’s defence ministry.

The strongest-ever quake to hit Morocco has killed at least 2,012 people and injured over 2,000, many of them critically, according to the latest official figures. Earlier on Sunday Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said Madrid would send aid to Morocco after receiving a formal request.

“It is a sign of Spanish solidarity and of the sense of friendship which unites the people of Spain with the people of Morocco,” he said during an interview with Catalunya Radio, adding he received a call from his Moroccan counterpart requesting the aid in the early hours of Sunday.

“It will be as much aid as Morocco needs, at first what we are setting in motion are search and rescue teams because it is urgent to try to find the greatest number of people alive to save them. When it is time for reconstruction, Spanish aid will also be present.” Other countries, including the United States and France, have also pledged humanitarian aid but Morocco would first need to formally request assistance, a step required before foreign crews can deploy.

Source: PUNCH