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Surviving the 8th September 2023 Morocco Earthquake: A Night of Chaos and Resilience

8th September 2023 was a seemingly ordinary evening in Agadir, Morocco. I was peacefully sitting on my bed, indulging in a series I’d longed to watch for quite some time. The clock struck 11:11 pm, a moment I’d always considered lucky, but little did I know that the universe had other plans for that hour. In the blink of an eye, my world was turned upside down. My bed began shaking uncontrollably as if possessed by an invisible force. The violent tremors left me bewildered and disoriented. My mind struggled to process what was happening. I was aware of the earthquake risk in my city, but never had I experienced it before.

A heart-piercing scream shattered the air as I fumbled to capture the bed’s erratic dance on video. It was my mother, her voice laced with terror from her bedroom. That scream jolted me into reality, and I instantly understood the situation’s gravity and what was happening.

From that scream onwards, time seemed to warp and twist. I found myself barefoot in the parking lot of our neighbourhood, as though I’d been transported there by some unknown force. The moments between that scream and my surreal arrival in the parking lot were a blur. The stairs had become treacherous, morphing into quivering structures, and the walls around us danced with menace.

My recollection of those harrowing moments remains clouded by confusion and fear. The realization that I had survived an earthquake, a catastrophic event I’d only heard of in distant tales, was bewildering. Only later, as I tuned into the news and saw the staggering numbers of casualties, did the magnitude of our fortune sink in.

For the people of Agadir, this earthquake was a haunting flashback to the infamous year of 1960. That year had seen the entire city ravaged, lives lost, and homes reduced to rubble. Decades of treasures and wealth were buried beneath the debris, leaving scars that time had not fully healed.

In the aftermath of the 2023 earthquake, the city echoed with the piercing sirens of ambulances, a constant reminder of the tragedy that had befallen us. Rescue teams embarked on the noble mission of saving lives, even those of our furry friends. Stray cats, trapped under the rubble, found hope in the hands of these selfless individuals. Amidst the chaos, a striking story of both tragedy and hope emerged. A woman had been giving birth during the earthquake; as fate would have it, she did not survive. However, in a miracle that defied explanation, the rescue team found a baby covered in plasma yet still breathing, which was captured on tape. It was a testament to the resilience of life in the face of calamity.

 The earthquake brought about surreal changes in the landscape. Waterfalls surfaced in areas that had never known such natural wonders, as the earthquake unearthed hidden groundwater reserves like in the region of Ouarzazate. These unexpected oases amidst the chaos served as a reminder of nature’s power and unpredictability. Radios played the Quran 24/7, casting a blanket of solemnity and mourning over the entire nation. It was as though Morocco collectively grieved for the loss and devastation that had struck our land.

In the digital realm, the earthquake brought out the best in the young generation. Internet users drew maps for those donating to villages that were not present on regular online maps, showing the incredible strength of our national unity.

Regardless of their modest backgrounds, people from all walks of life came together to donate whatever they could—mattresses, blood, trucks to transport donations to affected villages and their time. This wave of compassion and support made us all proud to be Moroccans, particularly during these challenging times.

However, even in cities untouched by the earthquake’s physical destruction, people chose to camp outside, the terror of that night still haunting their dreams. For many, including myself, the trauma of that night lingers as PTSD. Sleep brings no solace, as the memories of the bed shaking and home decor breaking down replay endlessly when I come to lay down in my bed.

In the days that followed, the news became a grim companion, with the numbers of the deceased and injured fluctuating hourly. It was a stark reminder of the scale of the disaster and the long road to recovery ahead.

The 8th September 2023 Morocco earthquake was a night of unimaginable chaos and despair, but it also revealed our resilience and compassion. As we continue to heal and rebuild, we hold onto the memories of that fateful night, a reminder of the fragility of life and the strength of the human spirit to endure and overcome, even in the darkest of hours.

Yasmine Diwany

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