The death toll in the 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco is nearing 2,500, surpassing the previous official estimate of 2,122.
According to figures released by the country’s Interior Ministry on Monday, the death toll had risen to 2,497, with another 2,476 people injured.
Around 300,000 people were affected by the quake, the UN has estimated, with many left homeless or fearing more aftershocks forced to sleep on the streets of Marrakech for the past three nights.
‘It’s difficult to pull people out alive because most of the walls and ceilings turned to earthen rubble when they fell, burying whoever was inside without leaving air spaces,’ a military rescue worker, who asked not to be named, said at an army center south of Marrakech near the epicenter.
On Sunday, many across the country were forced to spend a third night in the open after the 6.8 magnitude quake hit late on Friday.
In Marrakech, several hundred people who are unable to return home have since set up camp in Place des Ferblantiers, near the south-west of the city and the medina.
Some stretched out on the central reservation of the city’s main road, Mohamed VI Avenue, while others lay at the foot of their parked cars.
The earthquake cracked and crumbled parts of the walls that surround Marrakech’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 12th century.
Morocco has admitted accepting search-and-rescue assistance from Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the United Kingdom.