Morocco Earthquake Death Toll Nears 2,900 With Over 5,500 Injured 

Nearly 3,000 individuals have been reported dead after the devastating earthquake that hit Morocco last Friday. Over 5,500 people are injured as search and rescue efforts throughout the destroyed terrain continue.

Authorities are losing hope of finding any more survivors as a majority of the roads have now been blocked off, making it difficult to reach remote villages in rural mountainous areas that were likely impacted the most by the quake. 

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According to Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior, the death toll currently is at 2,901 with 5,530 individuals injured in the nation’s deadliest earthquake since 1960.

Vehicles with rescue supplies are continuously making there way towards roads in the mountains to deliver food and tents to survivors while search teams continue to search through rubble for more people. 

Stefanie Dekker, a reporter for Al Jazeera, reported from the village of Imi N’Tala that the situation is dire:

“The village is completely flattened and devastated. The stench of death is everywhere. There are still at least 40 bodies under the rubble. Massive chunks of the mountain came down, smashing into these villages. Entire families have been wiped out.”

“One man was pointing at his home. There was a white door that remained standing, and he was telling us that that was the door to his house. He started crying about how he ran out of the door and everything collapsed around him. He lost both his sons and his wife. He was screaming because he saw his wife’s abaya under the rubble. It was heartbreaking,” Dekker said.

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“The problem is the access to these places. There are narrow, winding roads. There are still many places that they have not been able to reach.”

Search and rescue teams from Qatar, the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United Arab emirates have been stationed throughout Morocco working with emergency teams, the military, and other officials. 

The United States and United Nations have also sent teams to the nation to help assess the damage and collaborate on response efforts. 

Head of the Menara district in Marrakesh, Abdel Wahed Chafiki, said “it is difficult to determine the total number of victims. The rugged mountainous terrain where the earthquake struck is making it a challenge to get to victims, but local authorities are continuing their relief efforts and providing assistance.”

“The army is doing [its] job to bring these people out of the ground, but also it’s very, very difficult to reach these places, so you can imagine that there is no food, but also there’s no blankets or beds where people can sleep,” said Errachid Montassir, an activist and humanitarian worker, who has been traveling with doctors to remote villages in the Atlas Mountains.

Rebuilding all that has been damaged, lost, and destroyed is going to be a long journey, as Morocco’s economy was already on the decline before the earthquake due to a lack of tourism.

Napa Valley Sign

7 Dream Summer Vacation Ideas

While traveling should be the last thing on all of our minds right now, considering the current coronavirus pandemic we’re all enduring, it’s important to break the cycle of only thinking/talking/texting about covid-19 and remember that this will eventually come to an end and we will be able to return to normalcy eventually. Remaining positive can be all we have in times of crisis, so let’s manifest that by the summer the coronavirus will be a memory and we’ll be able to take a much needed vacation. Here are a few classic summer vacation trips to inspire you to begin planning your dream post-pandemic vacay;

The country of Columbia has quickly become one of the most visited countries in the world for tourists, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s made quite a name for itself as a hub for art and culture. Medellín is often referred to as the “City of Eternal Spring,” and in Colombia, spring is defined by gin cocktails on the patio with breathtaking beachfront views, hiking in the mountains, frolicking through the vast meadows that surround the local rain forests, and taking in the history of the town’s colorful architecture and cobblestone streets.

Monaco has become known as the 007 fantasy vacation we’ve all wanted to go on. The tiny city is located on the Mediterranean coastline of France and is the perfect setting for feeling like an international spy on a strict mission to save the world and get the girl in the matter of two hours. Gamble in the city’s upscale casino facilities while you dine out at some of the most extravagant eateries you’ve ever experienced. The seaside-hillside backdrops paint a magnificent view from anywhere in the city.

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Monaco harbor at twilight

Morocco is a country in northern Africa that has one of the richest and most diverse histories out there. The city of Marrakesh is known for its street-market goods and long winding walking paths that you can ride a camel down to catch some seriously breathtaking sunsets, which later transitions into a sky full of more stars than you’ve likely ever seen in your entire life.

Jamaica has long been one of the hottest, pun intended, summer vacation destinations for travelers all across the world, and how could it not be? The temperatures are extremely hot in the summer, which basically requires you to be on the beach at all times. Famous beach sites in Jamaica include  Doctor’s Cave Beach or Walter Fletcher, both which are known for their snorkeling. 

Machu Picchu offers some of the most surreal clear blue skies, green landscapes, and intensely beautiful views. Whether you’re actually up for the challenge of hiking the entire trail or not, there’s a multitude of sightseeing destinations that the casual traveler can leisurely make their way around. The Peruvian town of Cusco, which is located adjacent to Machu Picchu, lights up their hilltop views at night, and offers a bunch of local markets, eateries, and experiences to enjoy on your trip. 

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Machu Picchu, Peru

If you’re a water sport enthusiast, Nicaragua might be the perfect place for your next summer vacation. Nicaragua is known as one of the top surfing destinations in the world. The country is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, creating some of the best conditions for participating in any sort of water sport or activity. Beyond athletics, Nicaragua also offers various natural sights to see including historical lakes, volcanoes, and rain forests which are densely populated with tropical birds and other wildlife. 

Finally, who hasn’t thought about embracing their inner real housewife and going wine tasting in Napa Valley before? After the recent wildfires, California’s wine country is actually thriving as a means of stimulating the economy. Napa Valley is located right outside of San Francisco and, beyond wine, is also known for its amazing restaurants. They also have a bunch of fun summer events and activities including the Festival of Napa Valley, or the Napa Valley Wine Train

While the coronavirus has become pretty much the only thing on all of our minds within the past few weeks, it’s important to disconnect from the chaos of the world and take some time to daydream. So make a mood board, cut out photos, and plan your perfect fantasy vacation. If anything, at least it’ll give you something to do while we wait for all of this to be over.

Solar Panel

Africa’s First Solar Powered Village To Be Used As A Blueprint For Renewable Cities

Id Mjahdi is a small community located near Morocco’s Atlantic coast. What was previously thought of as just a small town in a sunny place is now making headlines as Africa’s first fully solar powered village. As of this month, the entire village became completely dependent on solar energy as its power source. Not one city in the entire continent of Africa has ever taken advantage of solar technology to this degree before. 

Currently, less than 1% of the solar power being used globally today comes from Africa. Even more astounding, Africa has the highest potential to use solar power exclusively as a power source, due to its positioning in relation to the equator and sun exposure. However, the continent overall lacks the ability to support all the infrastructure that goes into using solar power, but Id Mjahdi is changing that. 

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Morocco in general gets 35% of its electricity and power from renewable energy sources, and by 2030 that percentage will increase to 50%, according to IRENA. The country also is already known for housing the world’s largest solar powered farm, the Noor-Ouarzazate complex. Id Mjahdi is now further contributing to Morocco’s renewable energy use and is being used as the “blueprint” for other villages in the continent that can use solar power over standard electricity. 

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Cleanergy is the solar power company that was behind powering the entire village. The company had a goal of creating a sustainable model for bringing complete solar power to remote and underdeveloped communities. When they created the plan, they looked for a village in which electricity could greatly improve the community members ways of life without completely industrializing the village. When they came upon Id Mjahdi, they knew it would be the perfect place to implement the first version of their solar power model; before the solar panels were installed, villagers would use candle light to work, and tree bark for heat and cooking purposes. They didn’t even have a close clean water source. 

“The first step in the $188,000 project was to build a water tower for the community. The next stage was to install a power station with 32 solar photovoltaic panels, which generate 8.32 kilowatts of electricity for distribution via a mini-grid. The power station is connected to around 20 homes in the village, serving more than 50 people,” according to Mohamed Lasry, Cleanergy’s founder. 

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In addition, Lasry stated that each home was provided with a fridge, a water heater, television, oven, and outlets for charging. The network of solar panels throughout the village have a battery that can give up to five hours of electricity post-daylight hours (once the sun goes down). Now, the village is truly thriving. Previously, girls had to miss school to stay home and travel far to get clean water for their families, now, with the help of Cleanergy, they have the resources to give women and children a proper education. Cleanergy also helped the village create workshops for valuable life skills such as learning to read and write, train for scholarships, and learn traditional values. 

Lasry states that the model that was used for Id Mjahdi can be replicated and used for villages of 100 to 1,000 people. Currently there are 800 other Moroccan villages that are without electricity, and the World Bank estimates that worldwide over 840 million people don’t have access to electricity. However, the World Bank also estimates that using the mini-grid renewable energy systems, such as the one Cleanergy created, could give electricity to 500 million of those 840 million individuals by 2030. 

“Our plan is to show [Id Mjahdi] as an example. People change — they have more time, they can have money, they can go to the market, they can buy what they need. For deprived communities seeking economic stability that won’t hurt the environment, this solar village shines bright,” says Lasry.