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Gridlock, Confusion and Waiting: On the Road With Spanish Rescuers in Morocco
Our video journalists embedded with a team of Spanish military rescuers in Morocco as they attempted to save lives after the earthquake. They spent much of the day waiting for orders.
We set out early Tuesday morning to try and catch one of these rescue crews that had recently arrived. And we found a Spanish military professional rescue crew that was just heading out up into the mountains to these remote villages that are extremely difficult to access. The Spanish team arrived on Sunday and they just got the green light to go into the mountains on Tuesday. We were hoping to see a miracle to see them rescue someone. But we quickly realized that with the logistics, they weren’t able to do what they came to do. As you keep going deeper, you notice the damage gets more and more extensive and starts to make it near impossible to move and access these villages. We arrive at this village, Ijoukak, and the Spanish team is getting out their dogs. They’re starting to jump out of the truck. And then, everything kind of stops. And we’re wondering what’s going on. There was no clear direction. It was a really frustrating and bizarre sense of inaction because they’re waiting to be directed by the Moroccan military and government, who are heading up all the operations. And they were just sitting and waiting. We had a few moments to speak with one of the lieutenants. I try and ask him about the government’s role in all this, the disorganization. And then his captain interrupts me and goes, “No political questions. We can’t talk about this.” When I spoke with another crew who was volunteering, he was able to speak a lot more candidly about what was going on. Has the military been helping with fuel and logistics? Tell me how they’ve been assisting. Slowly. The things here in Morocco is very slowly. So you were in the Turkish earthquake, too. How does this compare to the earthquake in Turkey? In Turkey is the help arrived so fast and the government let people work so fast. Maybe the first day you can work. It’s all free for everybody. Here its trouble is very slow. In the government’s defense, more rescue crews would have likely caused even more gridlock and even more of a delay in reaching these villages. Also, we’ve come to notice that most of these remote villages, because they’re so small, the villagers actually recovered most of their dead within the first day or two. The volunteer texted us later and said they had made that same assessment, and actually were packing up and concluding their whole rescue operation in Morocco. They said they simply could not do what they came here to do.
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