Morocco earthquake: Midlothian woman describes 'scary' scenes in Marrakesh but tells holidaymakers to still go
and live on Freeview channel 276
A mother who was on holiday with her son in Morocco when the earthquake struck has described the "scary" scenes as hundreds of panicked people ran through the streets.
Lisa Black, 50, from Loanhead, was in Marrakesh on a 10-day visit with her 25-year-old son, Conor Mason, when Morocco was hit by its worst earthquake in more than a century on Friday last week, September 8. More than 2,800 people have been killed and 300,000 affected. The epicentre of the 6.8 magnitude quake was near Marrakesh, although the worst destruction was felt in isolated village communities in the Atlas mountains.
Ms Black and Conor had flown out on September 3 – the trip was a treat from her partner Lee Golding. She said they had been enjoying a typical holiday in Morocco, with a visit to the desert and a variety of other trips. "It's an incredible place – the people and everything are just so amazing, I've never been to a country like it."
On the night the earthquake struck they had been out for dinner. "We were walking along, it was about five to 11. We didn't feel the first tremor – I think it was about 4.3 – but we saw lots of people running. At first I thought it was a shooting because all the cars stopped, there were people running out of restaurants, screaming.
"Then the 6.8 tremor hit us. I said to Conor 'Just run' – so the two of us ran. People were coming out of everywhere, there was rubble falling and women screaming, passing out, men on their knees praying, it was just crazy. My instinct was to try and help some people, just to get them up off the ground. I think they were just in so much shock and fear. The sheer shock made some of them just pass out. There were hundreds and hundreds of people in the streets. It was very surreal and very scary.
"We got back to the hotel and they said we couldn't go in just then so we were just all out in the streets, everybody was still panicking. I think we eventually got into the hotel maybe about 2am – but I did speak to people at the airport when we were flying home and some of them had to sleep on sun loungers because they wouldn't let them back in."
She said she and Conor went to the Medina – the old town of Marrakesh – the next morning. "It was just to see if we could help anybody and see what the damage was like. It was like a bomb had gone off – buildings down, houses destroyed, especially in the souks."
She said they had visited the Medina on the first day of their holiday and admired the ancient buildings and winding streets. "To compare it the day after the earthquake was like night and day." But she said: "The community is so strong, they were all helping each other, which was amazing to see."
And Ms Black urges anyone with a holiday planned to Morocco to make sure they still go. "It's getting back up and running and they still need the tourism. I've had lots of people asking me if it's safe to go. Yes, it's safe. They are going to look after you even more. Do not cancel your plans."