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Earthquake Hits Morocco

We have had many lively and interesting discussions on this Forum about the unexpected while traveling along with having insurance while traveling. And here is an example pf the unexpected while traveling.

"Morocco earthquake live updates: 6.8-magnitude kills at least 290 people
The quake struck Morocco’s High Atlas mountain range"

I am certain there are currently many tourists visiting Morocco right now who have experienced this earthquake.

And I am thinking of them because probably none of them expected this on their trip.

How does one prepare for an earthquake while traveling?

Posted by
1985 posts

Unless you live in earthquake country you don’t prepare. The worse one I’ve been in was the Sylmar Quake in 1971 at a 6.5- 6.6. A lot of damage and collapse of a freeway. We had a 5.1 near me (Ojai CA) just last month. I was on the 17 floor in a Mexican hotel in the 70s when a bad one hit. But, knowing how ancient some buildings are in some parts of the world, I do think about the risk. Also consider building requirements in some poorer areas too. I saw the damage in the Abruzzo area quake! What a mess. Stone buildings in rubble and tunnels requiring some repairs.
Get under the sturdiest item you can get to and don’t run outside if you don’t want a wall to fall on you as you leave. I keep flip flops at my bedside so I can walk across broken glass, etc.

Posted by
14144 posts

You get no advance notice for things like earthquakes, floods, fires or terrorist attacks so there is nothing you can do.

Not true. You actually have two choices--don't go anywhere that might get any of these type of incidents or stop worrying about it.

I've been in London when IRA bombs went off. I was in Tel Aviv when terrorists starting shooting up a restaurant not far from where I was staying. There was nothing I could do except stay away from the immediate area.

But neither has stopped me from traveling.

Posted by
9866 posts

You can't prepare if you are traveling, only if you are living in an earthquake area.

What do you do? You find a way to get out to lighten the load on the local infrastructure. Contact your airline. That's what the people I know did who were in Nepal when the large earthquake hit a few years ago. They regretted leaving locals who had guided and ported for their expedition, but they had to go.

You have to judge if you are young enough, spry enough, to be able to hike in a rural area with winding roads such as the Atlas mountains. Will you be staying in old, mud structures or charming old buildings as in Marrakech ? You have to decide if you should visit in the first place.

You can't prepare for everything.

Posted by
4082 posts

As Diane said, "Get under the sturdiest item you can get to and don’t run outside if you don’t want a wall to fall on you as you leave. I keep flip flops at my bedside so I can walk across broken glass, etc.

I spent my entire time at Weyerhaeuser working in the Technology Center in Federal Way, WA. This was a building with labs that included hazardous materials. No matter where we worked, all of us did regular training on what to do in the case of an earthquake. One of the aspects of it was getting under our desks when the shaking started. When the relatively small Nisqually earthquake happened, that training was so ingrained that most of us were under our desks without even thinking about it. The advice to get under something sturdy if you possibly can is very important.

The next step of our training was to exit the building after the shaking stops and meet in a designated area where we'd stay until the building was declared safe to re-enter. The travel equivalent would be paying attention to possible escape routes from where you're staying.

In WA we were advised to have a "go" bag in case of earthquakes or other evidence that Mother Nature always wins. The travel equivalent would be a small bag with absolute essentials ready to grab when you have to vacate where you're staying. Those might vary slightly for each of us, but passport, emergency information, essential plastic, some cash, phone, meds and keys (for the room, my car and my house) would be at the top of my list in an iffy area. The 1st 4 being flat would already be in my money belt.

I don’t go barefoot anywhere, so I always have slip on shoes next to the bed. I also wear capri or long pajamas and have my raincoat long or short, readily accessible to slip on over them.

Like any other planning, my husband rolls his eyes, but I think of it as insurance protection for avoidable hassles, especially because I've traveled solo since 2016.

Posted by
217 posts

We're planning to go in early October. As we live in the SF Bay Area we know what Morocco is going through. Our hearts go out to the residents and tourists..

Let's pray that the damage won't be too wide spread but me knows that may not be the case . I feel for those terrified to go back inside

We stand with Morocco and pray that they will rebuild and pray for those who lost a relative or Friend,

Question do you think they will advise tourist to stay away for a week or so to assess and repair the damage?

Please don't make insensitive comments because until you have been through an earthquake you don't know how it feels.

Remember duck and cover under a sturdy table or in a doorsill away from a window or chandelier. If in a car pull off the road. Be prepared for aftershocks. Carry flashlights, bottled water,food,battery powered radio,power bank to charge cellphone,extra cash and patience

Posted by
9866 posts

Daniel, you know how it is a month out if you were in the Bay Area during the Loma Prieta. It takes a long time to repair and rebuild. Morocco has fewer resources than the Bay Area did and it still took a long time to assess damage after the Loma Prieta. It wasn't just the publicized damage in the Marina, or the Bay Bridge, but also all the houses in Oakland and Berkeley that had shifted on their foundations and were condemned. It took months.

And, as you know, it depends where you are going. Streets in the Medina's could be closed, houses condemned. Were you going south into the Atlas Mountains? Morocco has more casualties due to the building materials in the mountains and older city buildings.
You'll see as your date gets closer.

Posted by
4093 posts

Even as a tourist there are some things you can do to prepare. In the UK you can sign up for the National Flood Warning service for instance which will give warning in vulnerable areas. People who come to Keswick for instance, I or any local can tell them the places that will (not maybe, will) flood in any significant rain event. So you can at least thing about what you would do and where to stay away from.

It is interesting that Lo mentions WA and go bags and all that. Even as a potential tourist I have read several times the emergency planning material on the state website for earthquakes and tsunamis (not to mention wildfires and snow events). And last summer sat through a 2 hour presentation on zoom to a residents group about what to do in such events. So I have thought about it and would hope not to be a totally clueless tourist in the event of such a catastrophic event, not a complete burden on the rescue and emergency personnel. I have been as responsible as I can be.

Sure I would have insurance but would not expect to be able to contact them for help in a major disaster.

Posted by
1574 posts

There is a conference in Marrakesh mid October.

The 2023 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will take place in October 2023 in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Wonder if they will be up and running by then and can handle the numbers . I hope so.

Posted by
502 posts

Thank you all for the experience and ideas. Lo, especially, very valuable advice. I have been through multiple middle-of-the-night hotel evacuations due to fire - some real, some alarm malfunctions. I prepare with much of the same care as Lo mentions before going to sleep.

I generally download local emergency apps for weather or quakes such as those mentioned by some above. My most recent use was in Japan. I forgot to "turn it off" when home and have received midnight flood advisories and earthquake alarms. It works!

Another use that I happened on was an app for Australia fire alerts. I found this reassuring when hiking. Being unfamiliar with all the terrain, I could check that I was far from any area of heightened concern or active fire.

Prayers to all impacted by the current disaster. Thanks for the post. I hadn't heard the news.

Posted by
13227 posts

THIS (some kind of drastic emergency) is why I carry my passport with me when I am out and about. I want to be able to evacuate myself to a safe location without going back to my hotel if some sort of major event occurs.

"I don’t go barefoot anywhere, so I always have slip on shoes next to the bed. I also wear capri or long pajamas and have my raincoat long or short, readily accessible to slip on over them."

I love this advice from Lo. As I ready for bed in a hotel, I lay out my clothes for the next day (in the order I will don them) so if an emergency occurs during the night I can hop into them in seconds and have my shoes ready to go. I have read in articles discussing preparing for an emergency that you should point your shoes to the door so if your room is smoke-filled you know which way to go. I'm not quite that organized and the rooms are so small in many European hotels I'm not sure I'd have a problem finding the door if it were safe to exit that way.

Posted by
5137 posts

Lo's and Pam's advice is not only good for travel but everyday life. After I read an article in the NYT about preparing for emergencies, I now always have a go-bag in my bedroom with a change of clothes, phone, wallet, an extra set of keys and anything else I can think of that I would need in an emergency.

I've been doing that since I live in an area with higher risk of fire and it makes me feel a bit more secure. I'd hate to have to escape from my bedroom window wearing skimpy pj's and slippers. :)

Posted by
1574 posts

Frank II

I did that based on one of your previous posts to me

Did not even know about it until your post and link. Glad that I signed up for it

Posted by
1985 posts

It’s weird because I think about a quake happening during the night quite often. I think it is because I hang my bathrobe on my bedpost so I can grab it if I need to get out of the house fast.
One thing I learned to do if you can’t get underneath something is to lie down up against the couch, your bed, etc. the theory is that anything falling would probably fall on or across the couch or bed thereby providing you a space that just might be free of falling objects, parts of ceiling, etc.
I have alerts on my cell and got a silent alert ( I had my phone in hand) I yelled to my husband to take cover and then I got the alarm alert just as I started to feel the quake.

Posted by
123 posts

I would emphasise the usefulness of travel insurance.
In the example of a damaging earthquake, you'll want to get out of the immediate area as soon as practical.
You don't want to be taking up local resources/space in evacuation centres etc if you can move on.
You may need to travel to another locality to find an operating airport or available flights. You may need to change flights or travel arrangements at short notice.
You may not have access to return to your hotel to get your bags or may not have access to your rental car.
You may need to find out the local resource for finding out safety information in changing situations (radio stations, twitter etc). Earthquakes may trigger tsunamis - if there's a threat you'll want to know about it and what you need to do!
You may also need to register that you are safe with your home country (if they knew you were in the vicinity of a disaster you don't want people putting themselves in danger to confirm if you are safe). Also let your family know you are safe and of any change of plans (again to avoid them tying up local resources if you are in fact safe and sound and moved on).
You may have to wait and things may not be comfortable and there may not be easy answers in a changing situation. Don't be that person complaining about sleeping on the floor in the airport. Most humans are actually pretty cool and people want to help in a crisis. They are just doing their best.

When my city had a devastating earthquake, some tourists (some were able to be billeted with locals) slept overnight in a city park with blankets. Some had suitcases trapped in hotels that were not able to be entered in some cases for days (and even then this was to check for bodies in the rubble, not to retrieve Bob's medications and Mary's passport). Cars were trapped in parking buildings and on streets that that were not accessible to the public for MONTHs. All the while there were frequent significant aftershocks. The airport was chaotic. Some tourists got themselves to other parts of the country, and others just left the country as soon as they could.

Travel insurance would at least help with decision making if there's less financial impact impact to be concerned about.

Posted by
217 posts

Allianz Travel Insurance is one of the best. Yes,I agree travel insurance is one thing you don't want to skip on . Also it's best to book directly with the Hotel for easier cancellation.

Posted by
14144 posts

For those wirh Medjet Assist, you can upgrade to Medjet Horizons which offers everything in Medjet Assist but will also arrange evacuations due to war, political strife, natural disasters, pandemic and more.

Posted by
15298 posts

Lordy, the casualty numbers in Morocco are just staggering. :O(
Kiwi, I remember well the terrible earthquake that hit your city.

This is such a valuable thread that it could be an ongoing category of its own in the "Tips & Trip Reports" section!!!? Virtually all of the terrific advice applies to a range of disasters that could involve the need to move very, very quickly and with a minimum of belongings...the bulk of which may be irretrievable for some time if recoverable at all.

While my locality isn't subject to hurricanes or severe earthquakes, we do have seasonal tornados that can be life-threatening and cause serious damage. When the weather service issues warnings and watches for your area, you want to be ready to head for safety - shoes on, flashlight at the ready, stuff in hand you'd need to get you home - if the sirens go off. Same as for fire exits, locate the safest places in your accommodation in advance should you have to access them in a fat hurry (basement; interior hall on lowest level; away from windows; in a bathtub with a mattress over you, etc.)

Posted by
10337 posts

Marrakech is/was such a beautiful city. We had hoped to return there. Such tragic loss of lives.

Posted by
4093 posts

This is the National Flood warnings page for England, with links for Scotland and Wales-
You will see how to sign up for alerts at top right.

I actually see we have one flood warning in the country tonight- in my own County. This is a Level 1 (lowest of 3) alert (to prepare, including a 'go bag') as the weather in Cumbria broke suddenly and unexpectedly this afternoon.

It is not a normal catchment to be the first under alert so they must have had big storms down there this afternoon.

After such a long dry spell the ground is rock hard so the water will just run straight off, not soak into the ground.

Posted by
14144 posts

I have set up the Accuweather app to alert me to any warnings due to weather...flooding, thunderstorms, tornados, etc. What's good about this is that it will automatically change your location when you travel and send you warnings in your new area.