The village of Tikht, home to over 100 families, was devastated by a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Morocco on September 10.
The village of Tikht, which was once home to over 100 families, has been reduced to rubble following a powerful earthquake measuring 6.8 magnitude that struck Morocco on September 10.
The efforts of search and rescue teams were painstaking as they worked to extract a woman’s body from the debris of a village that has effectively ceased to exist. This earthquake stands as the deadliest in Morocco in more than six decades.
Omar Ait Mbarek, the 25-year-old fiancé of the deceased woman, Mina Ait Bihi, watched in tears as search and rescue teams carefully uncovered her body. They found her phone amidst the wreckage and handed it to the grieving fiancé.
Omar was on a call with Mina when the earthquake struck, and the sound of falling kitchen utensils before the line cut off was his last connection to her.
“What do you want me to say? I’m wounded,” he told the local media personnel as Mina Ait Bihi, who was just weeks away from becoming his wife, was laid to rest in a makeshift cemetery alongside 68 others.
The village of Tikht, once a thriving community, now lies in ruins, with timber, masonry fragments, broken plates, shoes, and remnants of intricately patterned rugs scattered all around.
“Life is finished here,” lamented Mohssin Aksum, 33, who had family residing in this small settlement. “The village is dead.”
Many of the structures in Tikht, like several other severely affected villages, were traditionally built using a combination of stone, timber, and mud-based mortar. The earthquake has exposed vulnerabilities in these construction methods.
Residents and soldiers gathered amidst the wreckage, with many stating that they couldn’t recall a previous earthquake of this magnitude in the area.
“It wasn’t something people here thought about when building their houses,” said Abdelrahman Edjal, a 23-year-old student who lost most of his family in the disaster.
But the quality of building materials was the least of his concerns as he sat among the rubble under the bright blue sky, surrounded by mountains. He recounted how he had tried to rescue people from collapsing houses after the earthquake struck.
Twisted steel reinforcement rods protruded from the debris, indicating some more modern building techniques were also used in the village.
Life was already challenging in the region, located about a two-hour drive from the employment opportunities offered by Marrakesh’s bustling tourist industry.
Aksum, who has roots in the area but resides in Rabat, explained how the earthquake had taken away the little that people had left. Livestock, a vital source of livelihood, were now buried under the rubble and beginning to decompose.
“Now, people have less than nothing,” he said.
Emergency shelters in the form of yellow tents had begun to appear on the road leading to Tikht by Sunday. Civil protection services were providing camp beds to those in need.
Non-profit organizations were also present, evaluating the immediate needs of the villagers beyond shelter, including food and water.
The shock of the losses and the extent of the damage had left many in a state of disbelief, uncertain about their next steps.
But for Omar Ait Mbarek, one thing was clear. Holding his late fiancée’s dust-covered phone, he declared, “I will rebuild my house,” before disappearing into the wreckage.