A man from Hull helping those caught up in the Morocco earthquake has described how “everything shook” at the terrifying moment the disaster hit.
Steve Sleight, a mountain guide living near the Atlas Mountains, said the quake was “so quick and so violent” when it struck on Friday night.
Thousands of people have died following the 6.8 magnitude shock.
Mr Sleight said: “It was like a train approaching. Everything just shook like you can’t describe.
“It’s such a dire, tragic situation.”
The 50-year-old former plumber, who lives in the small town of Amizmiz – about 34 miles (55km) south of Marrakesh – said he was “looking at the stars” on the roof of a friend’s house on a mountain when the quake struck.
“I ran down and out and, as I opened the front door, I couldn’t see anything, just clouds of dust everywhere.
“He’s got this 10 foot-high wall that had just collapsed. Luckily no-one was injured, but in that particular village there were three or four houses that were flattened, but thankfully I don’t think anyone was killed. It’s only a small village.”
Buildings in Amizmiz, a valley in the mountains which is about seven miles (12km) away from the epicentre, and other nearby villages had been reduced to rubble leaving many in need of urgent supplies, he said.
“It’s a dangerous place to be so everybody’s left their homes.
“I think initially everybody took what they could from their houses and from these camps in different parts of that particular town, and they’re basically sleeping outside under the under the stars.”
Mr Sleight, who has been working there as a mountain guide for the past two years, said he and his “tiny team” of friends were helping to transport food, water, sanitary products, tents and basic first aid kits to those affected in villages higher up the mountain.
“We’re just a bunch of expats and [we’ve] found ourselves in the middle of this and we want to do what we can.
“Everybody’s really chipping in and basically helping.
“People are really rallying around and getting things together, just everything that you need to live a normal life as possible and basic stuff that they’re going to need.
“This is just the beginning of a long process now.”
Mr Sleight’s friend, John Beynon, who runs a charity in Beverley, East Yorkshire, said he was very concerned for his pal.
“Your first thought is ‘hope he’s OK and all the people around him’, but it’s always a shock when somebody you know is right there in the middle of a global tragedy,” said Mr Beynon, chief executive of Jacob’s Well.
The charity has launched a fundraising appeal for donations “to help the victims of this quake”, he said.
“The people in these mountain villages are very poor. Their houses have all been destroyed and they have no money to rebuild their lives.
“So our friends who live there are in a great position to know [who are] the poor people and who needs the help.”
Source : BBC