Kettou wedding party saves villagers from devastation

Kettou wedding party saves villagers from devastation

On the video, people scream and shout “earthquake”, or call for family members as the overhead electric lighting from the music and dance is replaced by pinpoints of flashlights from mobile phones.

Only one person in Ighil Ntalghoumt, eight-year-old Ahmed Ait Ali Oubella, was injured in the quake when a rock fell on his head, cutting it open, and he can be seen in the video being carried to safety by his father.

A wedding celebration saved all the people of a Moroccan village during Friday’s deadly earthquake.Credit: Reuters

The party was a traditional pre-wedding celebration thrown by the family of the bride before she was to depart the next day for the house of the groom waiting in Kettou.

Despite the disaster, she travelled to Kettou on Saturday with Boudad’s brother and his wife, who had been at the party, leaving behind her marriage gifts and arriving in the afternoon.

The roads were so bad they had to walk the whole way and when they arrived they found widespread damage but no deaths.

A man removes debris from the rubble of his house in Azgour, Morocco.

A man removes debris from the rubble of his house in Azgour, Morocco.Credit: Getty Images

As in Ighil Ntalghoumt, a communal event had saved many lives, with villagers holding a funeral in a house that stayed upright. Boudad had bought 150 chickens and 30 kilograms of fruit to celebrate the wedding that afternoon but much of it has now rotted.

“When she arrived there was nowhere to sleep. We are just looking for a tent,” he said.

Many people from villages around Ighil Ntalghoumt had also come to enjoy the Ajdir family’s celebration and a shared meal of beef tagine stew, meaning they too escaped being trapped in their homes by falling rubble.

The bride’s father Mohamed Ajdir, 54, had set up a big tent in the courtyard of his house for wedding guests to enjoy the party. That tent is now being used as shelter for the villagers, though they say they need more robust shelters soon, with colder, wetter weather expected later this week.

As he walked around the village, Ajdir pointed to signs of Friday night’s chaos, with dainty dress shoes abandoned in the rubble.

The bride’s father Mohamed Ajdir shows the damage caused by the earthquake.

The bride’s father Mohamed Ajdir shows the damage caused by the earthquake.Credit: Reuters

The terrible fate the people of Ighil Ntalghoumt escaped was clearly visible a few kilometres back down the winding mountain road towards Marrakesh where the village of Tikekhte was almost entirely wiped out.

Not a house was left standing and some 68 people perished out of the village’s 400 inhabitants.


But while the people of Ighil Ntalghoumt were saved, they were still in dire need of help and some of them could be seen walking down the mountain to ask the authorities for aid.

In Kettou, all the survivors were now sharing their meagre supplies. “The village is a big family. We share all we get,” he said.

Meanwhile, King Mohammed VI – whose public appearances are normally limited to special occasions and who had not yet addressed the tragedy – appeared on a video showing he inspected the hospital bearing his name in Marrakesh.

In a surprising gesture, the bespectacled monarch was seen seated in a chair, coat off, suspenders showing, and shirt-sleeve rolled up, with his arm at the ready to donate blood.

Blood donations have become a national gesture of solidarity, with Moroccans lining up in Marrakesh and other cities to help the injured.