Monday Briefing: Searching Morocco’s Quake Zone

Monday Briefing: Searching Morocco’s Quake Zone

Rescuers in Morocco struggled to reach remote areas in the mountains outside Marrakesh yesterday after the worst earthquake to hit the area in a century flattened homes across central and southern parts of the country on Friday. At least 2,122 people were killed and more than 2,421 were injured in the disaster, Moroccan state television reported.

The extent of the damage and the number of casualties from the magnitude-6.8 earthquake were unclear because the hardest-hit communities were in the High Atlas Mountains, where debris blocked access to the few roads, and where phone service and electricity were knocked out. The U.S. Geological Survey said that a 3.9-magnitude earthquake, almost certainly an aftershock, struck the area just before 9 a.m. yesterday.

In Marrakesh, residents tried to locate survivors under piles of rubble from the buildings that had crumbled around them. In the rural areas outside the city, people climbed through the canyons formed by collapsed homes to retrieve bodies. And in some remote areas, residents sifted through mountains of debris with their bare hands in search of survivors. People in isolated villages and the city set up camps outside, either because their homes were uninhabitable or because they feared aftershocks.

The next few days will be critical: After four or five days, the possibility of survival dwindles. Damaged buildings present an “extremely dangerous environment” for those trying to help, said Caroline Holt, a senior official at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The rough terrain has made it difficult to reach many affected areas, which are home to some of the country’s poorest people. “It’s just a rush, it’s a race against time to just get to those places,” Holt said.

A closer look: These maps shows the breadth of the destruction, and these photos show what it’s like on the ground.

Here’s how to help: These organizations are aiding the rescue and recovery efforts.

President Biden traveled to Hanoi yesterday for the signing of a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with Vietnam, among the few Southeast Asian nations to have publicly pushed back against China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. Since taking office, Biden has sought to enhance relations with several nations in the region because of their tactical value as a bulwark against rising Chinese aggression.

In officially announcing the upgraded ties, Vietnam said it hoped the U.S. would continued to ensure the legitimate interests of Vietnam and other nations there.

Concerns remain about Vietnam’s recent harsh crackdown on dissent and activism, as well as an internal government document that revealed clandestine plans to buy weapons from Russia in contravention of U.S. sanctions.

Biden’s Asia trip included a visit to the G20 conference in India, where he spent most of his time nurturing his relationship with Narendra Modi, the prime minister. A painstakingly negotiated declaration at the summit extended an invitation to the African Union to join the G20 but omitted criticism of Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

As an arms trafficker, Viktor Bout operated in some of the world’s most dangerous places. He become one of the world’s most wanted men, earning the nickname “Merchant of Death,” and a 25-year prison sentence in the U.S.

Now, nine months after returning to Russia in a prisoner exchange, Bout is running for local office as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, which specializes in flamboyant politicians who entertain and scandalize as much as they legislate. Nominally an opposition party, it actually serves President Vladimir Putin in elections that add a veneer of legitimacy to his rule. Bout’s campaign shows how the Kremlin is eager for fresh faces to maintain popular support.

In recent years, start-ups have pushed the boundaries of what the public thought was possible with facial recognition technology.

But this breakthrough was more ethical than technological. Engineers at Facebook and Google built similar tools years ago — like a person-identifying hat-phone. They held them back because they believed them too dangerous to be widely available.

When “Jawan” opened in India last week, eager audiences gathered in early-morning lines to watch Shah Rukh Khan’s return after a four-year hiatus.

The so-called King of Bollywood has starred in dozens of movies produced by one of the world’s largest film industries. Khan’s production company told Variety that “Jawan” collected $15.6 million globally on its opening day, the highest total in Bollywood history.

The record it broke? It was Khan’s, too. His film “Pathaan” generated $12.7 million the day it was released, according to Variety. It went on to make nearly $130 million, more than the Jennifer Lawrence comedy “No Hard Feelings” and “Air,” the Nike tale starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Justin

P.S. The Times’s “Portraits of Grief” series memorialized 2,310 victims of the 9/11 attacks. Here’s how it began.

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