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S. Korea plans to send quake aid for Morocco

By Choi Si-young

Published : Sept. 11, 2023 - 15:05

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Emergency workers carry a dead body in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, in Amizmiz, Morocco, September 10, 2023. (Reuters-Yonhap) Emergency workers carry a dead body in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, in Amizmiz, Morocco, September 10, 2023. (Reuters-Yonhap)

South Korea is planning to send aid to help Morocco recover from its deadliest earthquake in more than six decades, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Monday, a day after President Yoon Suk Yeol spoke of supporting the North African kingdom.

“We will provide aid matching our status on the international stage,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said in a statement, adding the government first needs to see what kind of support Morocco wants, including a team of relief workers.

The 6.8 magnitude quake, the strongest to hit the kingdom in 120 years with the death toll surpassing 2,000, struck late Friday night in a mountainous region south of the ancient, tourist city of Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI thanked countries that have already provided assistance without saying whether he will accept it. The US, Britain, France, Turkey and Ukraine sent first responders and search dogs following the quake.

Britain said it has also deployed 60 rescue workers and equipment with a medical team. Turkey, hit by a devastating quake that killed tens of thousands earlier this year, says it is ready to send 265 personnel and 1,000 tents.

Algeria, which cut its diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2021 and closed its airspace to all Morocco-based airplanes, said it would reopen its airspace for aids going to and from the kingdom.

“There is no indication directly from Morocco that says it is declining outside assistance,” a Seoul official with knowledge of the matter said, without elaborating.

The quake came at a time when the kingdom is facing increasing pressure over its flailing economy, rocked by the damaged farming sector prompted by droughts. Morocco’s trade ties with Russia are disrupted by Western sanctions on Moscow.

The World Bank, which says it has offered “its full support” for the kingdom, and the International Monetary Fund will hold their annual meetings in Marrakech, potentially marking their first time in 50 years to meet in an African nation. The two groups have yet to announce any changes to the current plans.