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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 February, 2004, 18:04 GMT
Morocco king visits quake town
King Mohammed VI gets a warm welcome at the hospital in al-Hoceima
The king plans to camp out like quake victims
King Mohammed has arrived in north-east Morocco to visit survivors of last Tuesday's deadly earthquake.

The king was cheered by up to 1,000 supporters as he arrived at the hospital in the town of Al-Hoceima, where survivors are being treated.

The number of dead in the quake - which struck rural areas around Al-Hoceima - rose to 572 after a baby girl died of head injuries.

The king's visit was twice delayed due to continuing aftershocks in the area.

Police are out in force, after two days of violent protests by survivors of the quake, who said they had not received aid supplies they saw arriving in the country on television.

But crowds who came to see the King arrive seemed welcoming and curious, not angry, correspondents report.

Camping out

The king shook hands with some of the hospital's medical staff, before touring one of the wings.

Family among sea of tents in al-Hoceima
Many are too scared to return home due to aftershocks

He has said he will spend the next four days camping out like the tens of thousands of people in the area - who are either homeless or too scared by aftershocks to go back home.

He also said he would direct aid efforts, following criticism that the government has mishandled the crisis.

Aid has begun to arrive, with some 3,000 tents, 6,000 blankets and 350 tons of food handed out in a 24-hour period, the government spokesman Nabil Benabdellah told state news agency MAP.

Correspondents say water supplies have also improved.

Aid anger

Several people were injured in a demonstration by about 1,000 survivors on Thursday.

And on Friday, police clashed with a group of people who were marching to the airport to demand state aid.

One man shouted that they knew that the aid had been delivered but they had still not received anything.

"The local councillors have stolen the aid, they must have done a deal amongst themselves," shouted a man called Hassan.

Authorities said they were distributing aid as quickly as they can.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched an appeal for $2.3m to pay for tents, blankets, mattresses, heaters and food.

The government has said it will announce a reconstruction plan for the region next week.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Juliet Gilkes
"Hundreds turned out to greet King Mohammed"



SEE ALSO:
Morocco king shuns quake perils
27 Feb 04  |  Africa
Morocco quake search called off
26 Feb 04  |  Africa
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
Country profile: Morocco
11 Sep 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Morocco
09 Nov 02  |  Country profiles


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