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“I held on to the counter while everything shook”, says Brazilian chef about earthquake in Morocco

“I was working in the kitchen at the exact moment the earth shook. The sensation was that I was falling, like vertigo.” This was the feeling that Brazilian Celso Szczerba had as soon as the earth began to shake in the city of Casablanca, western Morocco.

Celso works as a chef in a Japanese restaurant and has lived in the city for just over a year with his wife and two-year-old daughter. “My wife called me terrified. It was our first experience with an earthquake,” she said.

For Celso, the biggest concern was knowing how his family was doing. “The phone rang and it was my wife, in a panic, saying that she felt the tremors, but that she was fine, my daughter didn’t even wake up. I was already on the street with other employees and customers.”

Celso reported that, at the time of the earthquake, he held on to the counter of the restaurant where he works. He also recounted the reaction of the establishment’s employees and customers shortly after the earth stopped shaking.

“I saw customers run out of the restaurant with all the staff. Several people on the phone, calling their families, luckily everyone was fine. We stayed on the street for 30 minutes and little by little we entered the restaurant, checking whether the structure had been compromised. Everything was fine, so we closed the restaurant and went to our homes.”

Dead and damage

Deaths caused by the earthquake that hit central Morocco reached 1,037, as reported by state television this Saturday (9), citing the country’s Ministry of the Interior.

The country was hit by 6.8 magnitude tremors on Friday night (8), as reported by the United States Geological Survey. The shock caused panic among residents and tourists in Marrakech.

That earthquake was the strongest to hit that part of the North African country in more than 100 years, according to the US Geological Survey.

The epicenter of the earthquake occurred at a depth of 18.5 km, about 72 km northeast of Marrakech, shortly after 11 pm local time (7 pm Brasília time), according to the agency.

Brazilian Olympic team was in the country

The Brazilian Pre-Olympic football team was in Morocco during the earthquake that hit the country this Saturday, as the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) told CNN.

In a statement, the CBF reported that athletes and members of the delegation felt the tremors and had to hastily leave the rooms they occupied in a hotel in the city of Fez. They were taken to the hotel pool and were able to return inside the building an hour after the event. No one was injured during the tremors.

The Brazilian team is in the country because it had played, on Thursday (7), a friendly against the Morocco under-23 team that marked the beginning of preparations for the Olympic cycle. The Moroccans, current champions of the African Nations League Cup, won the game 1-0. A new friendly between the teams is scheduled for Monday (11).

Rescue has difficulty and authority asks for blood donation

Rescue teams in Morocco are having difficulty reaching areas most affected by the earthquake that hit the country because nearby roads are damaged and blocked, state TV Al Aoula reported.

Meanwhile, the Moroccan Blood Transfusion and Hematology Center has asked the population to donate blood to help the victims.

According to the agency, the number of injured and the type of injuries mean that blood bags will be needed as soon as possible.

CNN team in Marrakech describes “absolutely shocking” scene

Benjamin Brown, team member at CNN who was in Marrakech when the earthquake occurred, said it took a while for people nearby to understand what was happening.

He said he and others left the hotel after feeling the tremors and headed to open land. At first, Brown said, most people — including some still in their pajamas — seemed calm.

“And then, a few minutes later, the screaming started,” he recalled.

Panic set in when people began to notice his injuries, said Brown, who spoke to the newsroom by phone. CNN with Michael Holmes.

“Some of them appeared to have serious head injuries with a lot of blood, in fact, so serious that in at least one case an ambulance had to turn away an injured woman because they were at full capacity,” he pointed out.

Afterward, many people decided to camp overnight, Brown said. “Absolutely shocking scene for Marrakech,” he added.

There were many partially destroyed buildings, some with roofs ripped off and glass windows broken, Brown reported, and parts of Marrakech’s historic walls were crumbling.

Damaged historic walls

The earthquake damaged parts of Marrakech’s historic walls, according to the country’s Al Aoula state TV.

The fortifications are a set of defensive walls that surround the historic districts of Marrakech and were first built at the beginning of the 12th century.

World leaders offer help

Several world leaders spoke about the earthquake that hit Morocco on Friday (8) and left hundreds dead. Many authorities offered help to the African country.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz sent condolences to the Moroccan people ahead of the G20 summit they are participating in in India.

“This is terrible news from Morocco. In these difficult times, our thoughts are with the victims of the devastating earthquake,” Scholz wrote this Saturday (9) on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Von der Leyen also expressed her solidarity: “My heart goes out to the Moroccan people in the face of the terrible earthquake that claimed hundreds of lives last night.”

She highlighted that her thoughts were with the families of the victims and those injured, wished them a speedy recovery and praised the rescue teams for their “admirable work”.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his opening speech at the G20 Summit this Saturday by offering his “sincere condolences to all those affected” by the earthquake.

“It is my wish that all those injured recover quickly. At this difficult time, my thoughts are with Morocco and we are prepared to offer all possible assistance,” she declared.

With information from Reuters and CNN International

Source: CNN Brasil

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