‘Miracle’ Brit woman alive in village where 2,000 thought dead after earthquake

Earthquake strikes central Morocco

Helen Gallagher survived the catastrophic 6.8 magnitude Morrocan earthquake along with her husband and four children.

Ms Gallagher, who runs a mountain guide company on the foothills of the Atlas mountains, told Sky News it was a “miracle” that her young family escaped without even a bruise.

It is feared that the badly hit remote mountain town of Amizmiz, where Ms Gallagher lives, could record up to 2,000 deaths alone.

This number from just one town almost matches the number of confirmed already dead across the entire country.

It is feared that the death toll will continue to rise as rescue efforts struggle to reach remote areas.

Experts have warned the next 48 hours will be critical for saving lives.

Ms Gallagher lives near the epicentre of the quake, which was a mountainous region southwest of Marrakesh, where entire villages have been flattened.

Describing the moment the quake struck, she said: “We had to get out quickly.”

She added: “We scrambled over rubble and broken debris, yet none of us even got a bruise.”

Ms Gallagher called for urgent aid to be sent, saying: “We need tents, medicine, food, water.”

The mountain guide, who has lived in Morroco for eight years, said that her main focus is keeping her children busy, such as by moving rocks and clearing debris around the house.

The British woman added that she would “process” the tragedy of the earthquake “at a later date”.

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Meanwhile, former international development secretary Rory Stewart said the UK should give its aid in direct cash payments to Morrocans.

Mr Stewart told Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips that “very urgent cash assistance” should be the top priority for the British Government.

He said direct cash payments would allow people to “address their own family needs”.

Morocco’s government has been unusually slow to accept overseas aid, despite offers from France, the US, and the EU.

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Seismologists explained that the earthquake was caused by a collision between tectonic plates that carry the European and African continents.

Rémy Bossu, director of the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, told the BBC that the African plate is moving in collision with the Eurasian plate at a speed of 2mm in a year.

He added that aftershocks are not “possibilities but a certainty”.

Mr Bossu said: “We observed 20 aftershocks that were felt, there are many more that have not been felt.

“There will be others, it may last for days or weeks.”

Many Moroccans decided to sleep outdoors for a second night, amid an ongoing fear of aftershocks.

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