Two volunteers from Blackburn have been helping to distribute aid to those affected by the major earthquake in Morocco.

Ismail Esat and Zaheer Bhai have self-funded their visit and stay and have collected more than £17,000 as part of their aid mission.

The 6.8 magnitude quake, stretching from the High Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakesh, destroyed buildings and left survivors homeless and in urgent need of shelter, food and clothing.

The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people were affected by the earthquake, the most powerful to hit Morocco in 120 years and made more dangerous by its relatively shallow depth.

Ismail, visits the country regularly and flew out on Sunday to Marrakech.

He said: “Our original plan was to go on holiday, but then decided this was far more important. We already help with local charities there and have been doing for eight years and wanted to all we could.

“We have been inundated with calls and pledges since we arrived. We are supplying aid to the villages that are not reachable by many charity organisations.

“We went up in the Atlas mountains where most of the house were just flattened and this where over a thousand people died underneath the rubble.”

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Ismail said their fundraising team consisted of Khalid, Isma, Nabil, Sabah, Helmi and Hannan, who had all helped to share details of their campaign.

He added: “We just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated and we just wanted to let them know the work we had been doing for the past few days.

“We do urge people to still get in touch and we can pass this directly to those working on the ground.”

On Monday, the UK International Search and Rescue (UK Isar) team, which is among a small number of foreign rescue teams in Morocco, began assessing the damage and health needs in two areas in the mountains as part of the international effort.

Most of the destruction and deaths were in Al Haouz province in the High Atlas Mountains, where homes folded in on themselves and steep, winding roads became clogged with rubble. Some residents cleared away rocks by themselves.
Some villages have been completely flattened and residents are using whatever equipment they can find as they struggle to help their neighbours.

Blocked roads are preventing ambulances from reaching the wounded, and officials are scrambling to clear debris.

Rescue and relief efforts are difficult amid the mountainous terrain, risk of landslides, and large distances.