Marrakech, The Gulf Observer: Morocco’s king showed solidarity with his suffering nation Tuesday as it counts the dead from a powerful earthquake, visiting some of the injured at a hospital not far from the epicenter and rolling up a sleeve to donate his royal blood.
King Mohammed VI inspected the hospital bearing his name in the city of Marrakech, where he inquired about the recovery services and care being provided for those injured in the Friday night temblor and the conditions of survivors, the official MAP news agency said.
A video shows the king — whose public appearances are normally limited to special occasions — at the bedside of several patients, bending over a young boy to bestow a kiss on his head and at the side of an older man.
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 Marrakech and other cities to donate blood for the injured.
The earthquake, with its epicenter in the Atlas Mountains, took the lives of more than 2,900 people — the majority of them in mountain towns and villages — and injured more than 2,000 others. As of Tuesday, more than 240 of the injured were being treated at hospitals in the Marrakech region.
The earthquake also damaged parts of the walls that surround Marrakech’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 12th century. Videos showed dust billowing from parts of the Koutoubia Mosque, one of Marrakech’s best-known historic sites. The city is also the site of one of the monarch’s royal palaces.