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News > Alumni in the News > Join the Cause: Fundraising for Morocco's Earthquake

Join the Cause: Fundraising for Morocco's Earthquake

In a twist of fate that would test their resilience, two brothers, Old Redingensians, Duncan Toms (OR 2013), an Associate Director and Multi-Asset Strategist at HSBC, and Kieran Toms (OR 2015), a dedicated medical doctor, found themselves amidst the turmoil of Morocco last week.

  

As the clock struck 11 pm local time, a devastating earthquake of staggering magnitude, 6.8, shattered the tranquillity of Morocco. Its epicentre, nestled in the High Atlas mountains, approximately 72 kilometres southwest of the enchanting city of Marrakech, unleashed a cataclysmic force that claimed nearly 3,000 lives and left over 5,000 individuals grappling with grievous injuries. The quake left a trail of destruction in its wake, reducing buildings and infrastructure to rubble, and rendering thousands of people homeless. Despite the harrowing ordeal, both Duncan and Kieran, emerged from the tempest with their lives intact. In an inspiring display of compassion and altruism, they are now sharing their first-hand experiences, recognising that the calamity they endured could have befallen anyone.

In the following account, Duncan recounts the nightmarish events that unfolded:

Last week I was on holiday in Morocco, trekking in the High Atlas Mountains. For five days we enjoyed an incredible trekking holiday in a beautiful part of the world, including a successful summit of Mount Toubkal. On Friday night, we stayed just outside the picturesque village of Imlil. This was a little over 40km from the epicentre of the earthquake. The noise was deafening as the mountain crumbled and boulders hurtled down the valley. The gite we were staying in shook so violently I was sure the building was about to collapse. With another enormous crash our concrete bedroom ceiling gave way. I escaped via the terrace while my brother survived by hiding under the bed.

We evacuated to the sounds of screaming as dust filled the valley and blocked all light from the stars. Incredibly, there were very few casualties in our immediate vicinity. Loud aftershocks occurred throughout the night as we waited in a dried-up riverbed with local people, away from further rockfalls. These local Berber villagers showed us amazing kindness, providing us with blankets for warmth during a cold and scary night. Power and phone signal were completely lost. I expect it still is. On Saturday, we left most of our stuff behind to trek out of the mountains. We walked all day through scenes of devastation, including tarpaulin covers over people not so fortunate to escape with their lives. Enormous boulders that fell blocked roads, preventing vehicles from getting to supplies and aid where it is needed most.

A 74-year-old villager told me during the night that he, his father, and his grandfather had never known or even considered earthquakes in the High Atlas. These communities, like we would be in the UK, were completely unprepared for dealing with an earthquake of this magnitude. For those of you following the news and feeling compelled to make a difference, I can attest, from personal experience, to the immeasurable value of supporting the Red Cross appeal. The task ahead, encompassing the evacuation of casualties, restoration of access, and the revival of power, water, and communication networks, is a monumental and complex undertaking. Moreover, the long road to rebuilding shattered lives and communities looms large. Thankfully, my family and the group we travelled with have all made it home. Our thoughts are now with all those still in Morocco – particularly with the incredible people we met, who are facing immense challenges and uncertainty. I feel very fortunate not to have been closer to the epicentre. There, the destruction is unimaginable.

  

Join us in extending a helping hand to those in need by contributing to the Red Cross appeal for Morocco's earthquake victims. Your support can make a world of difference. Please click here to donate: https://donate.redcross.org.uk/appeal/morocco-earthquake-appeal

#WeAreRedingensians  #ReadingWay #MoroccoQuakeRelief #RedCrossMoroccoAppeal #CompassionInChaos #ResilienceAndHope #SupportingEarthquakeVictims

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