Earthquake in Marrakesh: testimonies of those who survived it

“It was scary, we were finishing dinner when we felt an earthquake, the ceiling of the restaurant collapsed, stones and debris fell, we saw people running outside and walked away towards the garden. We decided to sleep on sun loungers by the pool, with blankets and towels. It was cold, but returning to the rooms was out of the question. There must have been at least two hundred of us.” Julia PerowneCEO of a major London-based travel PR agency, survived the terrible earthquake in Morocco, magnitude 7.0, with its epicenter south of Marrakech.
She is not on holiday in Marrakech, but she is one of the professionals who, like us, have just arrived in Marrakech. Vanity Fair and other journalists from each country for Pure life and experiencea global event that brings together operators, experts and media from the world of travel to Morocco every September, and the La Mamounia hotel where we are located is one of the most historical and luxurious in Marrakech.

It’s outside the medina, an ancient walled area of ​​alleys and souks where last night’s damage was worst and where most tourists stay in thousands of riads of all levels and sizes, but where yesterday’s earthquake also opened a long crack. opened, clear and vertical along all four floors of the red building’s 1920-dated façade. “After the arrival of the engineer and the team called by the hotel to check the security, we were allowed to return to our rooms at 5 am,” – concludes Perowne.

Will Oakley is also here for Pure (whose organization is currently looking for ways to use the people who have come here to help through NGOs, raise funds or provide reserved rooms for the homeless). Will, general manager of Jumby Bay, a private island resort in Antigua, also came to Pure. He was sleeping on the street and describes the moment of the explosion.

“At first there was a sound like a strong roar, then shaking, the earth shook. It happened exactly at 11.11, a surreal moment because there was complete silence, the crickets and all the nocturnal insects stopped. There was complete silence, and in a second the sky was filled with birds flying away and soaring upward. It lasted no more than 30 seconds, we ran to the pool because it was an open space and we saw a big wave crashing onto it. We sat up in bed and half an hour later we felt a new trembling. They brought us water and blankets and worked until two o’clock. At some point, the crickets all began to sing together again, and we realized that below, on Earth, calm had returned. Marrakech is full of tourists this season, the Easyjet flight at dawn on Saturday the 9th landed regularly, the captain reported an earthquake in-flight and the Italian holidaymakers were left unsure what to do, but when they arrived at the airport it was business as usual. , no information, no movement of military aid planes or anything else, at least at first glance everything is as always. Tourists dispersed to their riads in Medina and beyond. Becca Williams, also English, dined al fresco at Comptoir Dana. everyone was running, there was a dangerous crowd, people were in panic, risking being crushed. Katherine says that today everything in the city is open, as if nothing had happened, even the bazaar is teeming with shops., people and sellers as always. The city is trying to pretend that nothing happened, it doesn’t want to stop.

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Where will you sleep tonight? I ask witnesses to an earthquake so powerful we now know it was felt even in Portugal. “We don’t really sleep well,” Will says. Maybe we should go back outside? Although the death toll, as we write, has risen to 820 in the area of ​​the epicenter, in the Atlas Mountains, almost 700 have been injured, more than 200 of them seriously, the wounded and displaced cannot be counted. Catherine, on the other hand, another purist, stayed in the side streets of the medina, in a small riad. “Last night almost everyone fled, it was too dangerous, the walls were collapsing and people were gathering in every open space. “It’s so sad,” she says as she searches for a ticket home to London. “So many people are homeless, we have to find a way to help.” Everyone is glued to their phones, but there are also a lot of uninformed people sunbathing and buying spices. But everywhere there is a great doubt, unspoken out of fear, silent: will there be another shock? Peering into the sky and listening to the crickets, Marrakech continues to wait.

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