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In Morocco, the village of Tizert is shocked the day after a deadly flood


In the south of the country, at least seven people were killed on a football pitch in the bed of a wadi, after a violent storm.

The entrance to the football pitch in the village of Tizert, southern Morocco, after the violent flood that took August 28 at least seven people. AFP

Major relief efforts were deployed in southern Morocco Thursday, August 29, the day after the violent flood of a wadi that killed seven people on a football field located in a flood zone. On Thursday morning, residents of the village of Tizert buried their dead, while a helicopter flew over this locality in the region of Taroudant, according to concordant information.

The sudden flood triggered by a violent storm swept a 17-year-old and six elderly men, according to the latest assessment of local authorities. All from the region, the victims attended a football tournament. Relief workers began clearing the rubble and patrols crisscrossed the area to look for possible other victims, including a man still missing, said an AFP correspondent.

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The authorities announced the opening of an investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy in order to establish the responsibilities. For his part, Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani assured that the government would look at "the measures to be taken to prevent this kind of tragic incident from happening elsewhere" . The disaster, which once again bombarded Morocco, an arid country regularly hit by torrential rains, has provoked outrageous reactions on social networks.

The emotion in the village of Tizert is so great that, despite warnings sent by villagers upstream, "no one expected such a devastating flood , " according to testimonies collected by AFP. Instead of taking shelter, many residents were slow to film with their phone, according to several witnesses on site.

Impressive images

The land on the edge of the wadi had recently been equipped with new equipment, according to two residents contacted by phone by AFP. The images of his joyful inauguration turn on social networks, as are the impressive ones, the muddy waves that swept the ground in a few minutes and pulverized the terrace of the locker rooms where several people had taken refuge.

In the Tizert region, as in other mountainous regions of Morocco, football pitches are frequently built in dry wadi beds, often the only flat place, according to AFP testimonies. "The field has existed for thirty years, people have always played there, my father told me that the wadi had already overflowed but, in memory of man, we have never seen that," said by phone Abdelkrim Bourrich, 41, president of a local association.

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Before the new developments - construction of the bleachers and the cloakroom -, "some people raised the question about the possible risks of floods, but they were not taken into account because it has been several years since had such a disaster, " lamented Lotfi Khaled, a member of a local development association. Several media have pointed out that the Special Bulletin of the Directorate of Meteorology (DMN) alerting stormy risks of "orange level" had been published several hours after the onset of bad weather announced.

Storms become "structural"

Floods regularly hit isolated areas of Morocco, with flash floods capable of turning the dry beds of wadis into destructive torrents. In 2014, floods linked to torrential rains had left some 50 dead and considerable damage in the south. Flooding is "the first risk in terms of people killed at the national level , " according to a report on climate risks published in 2016 by the Royal Institute for Strategic Studies (IRES). With the landslide risk, "the floods will affect nearly 21,000 people per year by 2030" in this country of North Africa, according to this study.

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While climate change is exacerbating extreme weather events around the world, weather has become "structural" in Morocco, according to the report, which called for various risk management measures. The problem, "it is the appropriation of watery areas and random constructions , " lamented on his Facebook page Charafat Afailal, former secretary of state for water who saw his portfolio removed during a previous reshuffle .

A national flood protection plan was launched in 2003, identifying more than 400 "vulnerable sites" to be addressed by 2020 for an amount of 25 billion dirhams (about 2.3 billion euros). It was not possible Thursday to get a detailed assessment of actions since.

Source: lemonde

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