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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 February, 2004, 10:07 GMT
Moroccan quake search continues
By Pascale Harter
BBC corespondent in Al Hoceima

Resident camp out in the Moroccan village of Imzouren
Some survivors are too afraid to return home
Rescue efforts are continuing in north-eastern Morocco where an earthquake caused devastation in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Buildings on the outskirts of the port city of Al Hoceima collapsed, but rural villages in the mountainous region were the worst-hit areas.

The Moroccan minister of health says 560 people are feared to have died in the earthquake.

Rescue teams are now scouring the rubble for survivors.

Day has broken on a desolate scene in the Rif mountain region of Morocco.

In al-Hoceima, people spent the night huddled together under makeshift plastic tents.

They have either been made homeless by the earthquake or are simply too scared to stay inside, as aftershocks rattle through the city, a terrifying reminder of Tuesday's devastation.

Equipment needed

For those in the mountain villages scattered around al-Hoceima, desperation is turning to tragedy.

Access to the worst hit areas is difficult
Rescue workers have been unable to get to the worst hit areas where they believe whole families have been buried alive as their homes collapsed.

Volunteers have worked through the night, but they are poorly trained and plainly under-equipped, often using their bare hands to clear rubble.

They hope that today digging equipment and expertise will reach this inaccessible mountain region.

But with the new day has dawned the knowledge that for the families in the isolated rural villages here help almost certainly comes too late.

Already talk has turned from what can be done to rescue survivors from the rubble to what can be done for a homeless population already mourning their dead.

In pictures: Morocco earthquake
24 Feb 04  |  Photo Gallery
Quake survivors speak of panic
24 Feb 04  |  Africa
Deadly history of earthquakes
08 Jan 04  |  In Depth
Algeria quake toll rises
25 May 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Morocco
11 Sep 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Morocco
09 Nov 02  |  Country profiles

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