Rescuers raced against time on Monday to find survivors in the rubble more than 48 hours after Morocco's deadliest earthquake in over six decades, with nearly 2,500 killed in a disaster that devastated villages in the High Atlas Mountains.
Search teams from Spain, Britain and Qatar were joining efforts to find survivors of the 6.8 magnitude quake that struck late on Friday night, 72 km (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech.
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Many survivors spent a third night outside, their homes destroyed or rendered unsafe. The death toll has climbed to 2,497 with 2,476 people injured, the state news agency reported on Monday.
In Imgdal, a village about 75 km south of Marrakech, women and children huddled early on Wednesday morning under makeshift tents set up along the road and next to damaged buildings. Some gathered around an open fire. Further south, a car stood crushed by boulders that had fallen from the cliff.
In the village of Tafeghaghte, Hamid ben Henna described how his eight-year-old son died under wreckage after he had gone to fetch a knife from the kitchen to cut a melon as the family were having their evening meal. The rest of the family survived.
With much of the quake zone in hard-to-reach areas, the full impact has yet to emerge. The authorities have not issued any estimates for the number of people still missing.
Roads blocked or obstructed by dislodged rocks have made it harder to access the hardest hit locations.
On a road near the town of Adassil, not far from the epicentre, rescue worker Ayman Koait was trying to clear rockfalls that were blocking traffic.
"There are worse roads further up that are still blocked and we're trying to open them too," he said as vans loaded with aid squeezed along a narrow cleared track.
People were salvaging possessions from the ruins of their homes, some describing desperate scenes as they dug with their bare hands to find relatives.
Many structures crumbled easily, including ubiquitous, traditional mud brick, stone and rough wood houses, one of the picturesque features that have made the High Atlas a magnet for tourists for generations.
"It's difficult to pull people out alive because most of the walls and ceilings turned to earthen rubble when they fell, burying whoever was inside without leaving air space," said a military worker, asking not to be named because of army rules.
The harm done to Morocco's cultural heritage has been emerging gradually. Buildings in Marrakech old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were damaged. The quake also reportedly did major damage to the historically significant 12th-century Tinmel Mosque in a remote mountain area closer to the epicentre.
It was the North African country's deadliest earthquake since 1960, when a tremor was estimated to have killed at least 12,000 people, and the most powerful since at least 1900, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.