Morocco’s worst earthquake in 60 years, which struck on Friday, has already tested the country’s fragile infrastructure to destruction, and will test its king. At least 2,100 people have been confirmed dead since the 6.8 magnitude quake shook the region awake on Friday night. More than 2,400 have been injured and the death toll is certain to rise as rescuers fight a losing battle with time – and often with only their bare hands. The epicentre was only 70 kilometres southwest of Marrakesh, but its location in the High Atlas has cut off access for heavy equipment to dozens of mountain villages, some of them feared completely destroyed. King Mohammed VI has announced three days of national mourning but his government was slow to accept international offers of help and has still only allowed in rescue and aid teams from four countries – Spain, Qatar, Britain and the UAE. King Mohammed has been absent from public view for long periods in recent years, and the subject of rare disloyal gossip over his infatuation with Abu Azaitar, a Moroccan-German mixed martial arts star. Now more than ever he will be under pressure to show his people matter to him more than his private life.
Photograph Getty Images