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British tourists had to sleep on streets after Morocco earthquake, husband says

Two British tourists slept on the streets of a village in the Atlas mountains – unable to contact their families following a devastating earthquake in Morocco, one of their husbands has said.

Rebecca Calvert, 63, and friend Hilary Mckegney, 64, had just arrived in the remote village of Imlil in the Atlas Mountains to go on a hiking trip when the earthquake struck.

The magnitude 6.8 tremor late on Friday damaged buildings from villages in the Atlas Mountains to the historic city of Marrakesh.

The official death toll from the earthquake was more than 2,000 people by Sunday evening.

The full toll from the most powerful quake to hit Morocco in 120 years will not be known until rescuers complete the challenging journey to the remote mountain villages that were the hardest hit.

Will Calvert, 66, told the PA news agency his wife was incredibly fortunate to be safe as she was staying within 20 miles of the epicentre of the earthquake.

The Windsor resident said: “We lost all contact. Comms were down. The only road up there was closed.

“We made contact through any means we could. We went through our MP to the Foreign Office and they managed to find out some information.

“They told us the indications were the village was relatively unscathed, which was surprising given how close it was to the epicentre. It was probably within 20 miles.

“It sounded hopeful. We finally heard from my wife and her friend (on Sunday). They slept with the locals in the streets for two days.”

Mrs Calvert was finally able to get phone signal again as she travelled towards Marrakesh on Sunday and spoke to her husband.

Morocco earthquake
Will Calvert, 66, from Windsor, Berkshire (Jacob Phillips/PA)

Mr Calvert added: “There will be many in a much less fortunate position. There is no doubt she was hugely fortunate to be that close to the epicentre and the building held.

“One thing that was clear from talking to the MP was that there’s a fair few British nationals in that area. So there is bound to be someone in a less fortunate position.”

Ms Mckegney, from Somerset, and Mrs Calvert will sleep on the floor of Marrakesh airport on Sunday and hope to fly back to London Gatwick on Monday, Mr Calvert added.

But their journey could be delayed and the husband was told there was a crack in the runway at the airport in Marrakesh.

The UK Government has sent 60 search and rescue specialists, four search dogs and rescue equipment to Morocco.

While an emergency medical team has also been deployed to assess the existing healthcare capacity and the extent of the damage.