Majority of Irish holidaymakers in Morocco are away from earthquake site

Travel agents express ‘deepest sympathies’ to colleagues and agents who lost family in disaster

A majority of Irish holidaymakers in Morocco are 250km away from the site of the earthquake near Marrakesh, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has said, as officials say there have been no reports of injuries among Irish visitors.

More than 2,000 people were killed after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit al-Haouz province in Morocco, up at the Atlas Mountains. It is understood houses have been destroyed and villages have been flattened as a result of the disaster.

Clare Dunne, chief executive of the ITAA, said the association was “deeply saddened” by the “tragic loss of life and devastations this has caused and our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected”.

“We are especially thinking of our colleagues, partners and agents in Morocco who have lost family and friends,” she said.


“The majority of Irish travellers holiday in the area of Agadir, 250km from the epicentre of the earthquake. The local airport remains open and flights continue to operate. Irish tour operators on the ground in Marrakesh are reporting that holidaymakers in the area are safe.”

Ms Dunne said if Irish tourists were in an affected area, they should monitor local news reports, follow advice by local authorities, accommodation providers or local tour operators. “Alternatively, contact your tour operator or the travel agent you booked your holiday with for assistance,” she added.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it continued to “closely monitor the situation and provide consular assistance”.

“The Embassy of Ireland in Rabat, Morocco has a presence on the ground in Marrakesh. There are no reports to date of any Irish citizen injury or casualty,” the spokeswoman said.

“All Irish citizens in the affected areas are asked to exercise caution, follow the safety instructions from local authorities, and monitor local media for the latest developments. Phone connectivity is sporadic in some of the affected areas.”

Dr Claire McCaughey, from Bangor, Co Down, who lives in Marrakesh, said there was a lot of trauma in the country right now.

“One thing we started to see last night, that I wasn’t anticipating and wasn’t particularly prepared for, was other complications that aren’t just trauma-related. For example, several heart attacks because people are so anxious and so worried,” she told RTÉ’s This Week.

“People are still sleeping in the streets, people are so terrified to go back into their homes. As I was coming home at 5am this morning, the streets are still lined with people just sleeping anywhere in the open air. We are seeing health-related things as a result of that.”

Peter Power, executive director of Unicef Ireland, said the damage had been “very extensive”. The Moroccan government was currently leading the humanitarian response, he said, adding that the United Nations and other agencies, including Unicef “stand ready”.

“The type of assistance that would be required is immediately many people have been severely injured so they need medical assistance. In the short term, the next few days, access to clean water will be critical,” he told Newstalk’s On the Record.

“A lot of people, their houses have been destroyed. We understand whole villages have been wiped out. Those people will need shelter, they’ll need somewhere to sleep, blankets, tarpaulin and so forth.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times