No OFWs in quake-hit Morocco areas — Baja

FADEL SENNA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A woman grieves as rescuers recover a family member’s body from the rubble in the earthquake-ravaged village  of Imi N’Tala near Amizmiz in Morocco on 13 September. Rescue teams stepped up a massive effort in devastated Moroccan mountain villages as chances fade for finding survivors from last week’s earthquake that killed 2,900 people and thousands homeless.
FADEL SENNA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE A woman grieves as rescuers recover a family member’s body from the rubble in the earthquake-ravaged village of Imi N’Tala near Amizmiz in Morocco on 13 September. Rescue teams stepped up a massive effort in devastated Moroccan mountain villages as chances fade for finding survivors from last week’s earthquake that killed 2,900 people and thousands homeless.

The Philippine Ambassador to Morocco has expressed confidence that no Filipino was hurt in the 6.8 earthquake that struck the North African country on 8 September.

Ambassador Leslie Baja, in an interview with Daily Tribune's digital show Usapang OFW, said there are no Filipinos living in the areas hardest hit by the earthquake.

The areas hardest hit by the 6.8 quake were in the far-flung mountainous regions of Morocco, making search and rescue operations increasingly difficult.

"Those areas are mountainous and have always been difficult to reach, even before the earthquake occurred. Most of the affected were Moroccan indigenous people," Baja said.

He added that Filipinos mostly live in the city centers, about five hours away from the quake's epicenter.

"The biggest concentration is in Casablanca and major cities like Tangier, Marrakech, and Fez. None of us were affected. None from the embassy, and [none] from the Filipino community," Baja said.

Immediately after the earthquake, the Philippine embassy started contacting Filipinos in Morocco to determine if they needed help.

"We also immediately checked in with our OFW community leaders across Morocco to ascertain their situation. They all reported back that no Filipino was hurt or whose home was destroyed by the quake," Baja said.

He said basic utilities and internet infrastructure were not affected, enabling the Filipinos in Morocco to communicate with their family back home.

"On Monday, we were all back to work. Although you can see some damage in Marrakech, businesses and offices were open there on Monday," he said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday pledged aid to Morocco. He said the Philippines is prepared to send relief supplies to help with the recovery efforts.

"We received the President's instructions, but the deployment (of help) is being coordinated here with the government of Morocco. We're still awaiting their signal (to see) if a rescue team is still needed," Baja said.

He added that there are only four countries that Morocco has allowed entry for search, rescue, and recovery operations. They are the United Kingdom, Spain, UAE and Qatar.

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