Morocco earthquake: London Fire Brigade firefighters join UK search and rescue team

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The UK is one of several countries sending aid to Morocco following a devastating earthquake on the evening of September 8.

Six London Fire Brigade firefighters have joined the UK International Search and Rescue Team in Morocco after Friday’s 6.8-magnitude earthquake which has left more than 2,000 people dead and many more injured.

The quake, which struck shortly before 11pm on September 8, had its epicentre in Al Haouz province high in the Atlas Mountains, where it caused huge devastation to many remote farming communities.

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Its tremors were felt in several Moroccon cities, including Rabat and Casablanca, and as far away as Portugal and Algeria. Marrakech, which is located north-east of its epicentre, suffered significant damage to its old quarter.

The earthquake killed over 2,000 people and devastated many villages in Morocco, including Talat N’Yacoub, south of Marrakech. Credit: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images.The earthquake killed over 2,000 people and devastated many villages in Morocco, including Talat N’Yacoub, south of Marrakech. Credit: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images.
The earthquake killed over 2,000 people and devastated many villages in Morocco, including Talat N’Yacoub, south of Marrakech. Credit: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images. | AFP via Getty Images

According to the BBC, it is the biggest earthquake the area has seen in over a century, and aftershocks are expected to continue for days, perhaps weeks.

Villagers have been reported digging to try to find survivors, as response teams struggle to get machinery to remote locations.

The Moroccan government has accepted aid from several countries in response, including the UK and Spain. As part of its support, the UK Foreign Office announced it has sent 60 search and rescue specialists, four search dogs and rescue equipment.

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Six of those will be firefighters from the London Fire Brigade, which the LFB said will help with “rescue, medical and logistics roles”.

LFB’s UK-ISAR coordinator and assistant commissioner David O’Neil said: “London Fire Brigade have deployed six firefighters to join a 60 strong team from UK-ISAR (International Search and Rescue).

“The team landed safely last night and have established a base for their operations in Amizmiz. A town with a population of 11,000 located 55Km from Marrakesh.

“The team have received fantastic support from the High Commission and the Moroccan military who are assisting with transport and rescue coordination.

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“They’re now undertaking needs assessments in remote village areas to determine immediate priorities in terms of rescue, medical support, water, food and shelter. This is very similar to the deployment our London firefighters were involved in when they went to Nepal following the earthquake out there in 2015.

“Many of the team members out in Morocco went to Turkey earlier this year. Both deployments were in response to an earthquake, but what they are dealing with in Morocco is a very different situation. While Turkey was a densely populated urban setting, the team in Morocco are faced with low level housing, spread over a vast rural area. The team is adapting their response to meet the needs of the environment over there.”

Following the earthquake, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak posted on X: “My thoughts are with everyone affected by the terrible earthquake in Morocco last night. The UK stands ready to support our Moroccan friends.”

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