Morocco earthquake affected 2.8 million people, says minister

Morocco’s earthquake damaged 2,930 villages in the High Atlas Mountains with a total population of 2.8 million people, the minister in charge of the budget said on Friday.

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on September 8 killed more than 2,900 people, most of them in hard-to-reach mountainous areas.

At least 59,674 houses were damaged, of which 32 percent have totally collapsed, the minister, Faouzi Lekjaa, said in a presentation at parliament.

The government would offer 2,500 dirhams ($244) monthly over a year in aid to quake-stricken households, in addition to 140,000 dirhams compensation paid for totally destroyed homes and 80,000 for partially damaged ones, he said.

Reconstruction should respect the original architectural character of the High Atlas mountains, Lekjaa said.

The earthquake, Morocco’s deadliest since 1960, destroyed many hamlets with traditional mud brick, stone and rough wood houses, specific to the Amazigh-speaking Atlas Mountains.

Overall, Morocco plans to spend 120 billion dirhams on a post-earthquake reconstruction plan that includes the upgrade of infrastructure over the next five years, the Royal Palace said on Wednesday.

The quake-stricken regions are among Morocco’s poorest, with many remote villages lacking proper roads and public services.

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