Floods kill workers in house being used as illegal factory in Morocco

By Aida Alami

At least 24 people died in a flooded house that was being used as a clandestine textile factory after torrential rains Monday in the northern Moroccan city of Tangier, the Moroccan interior ministry said in a statement.

The victims, most of whom were women, were trapped in the basement of the house, in a residential neighborhood of the city, the ministry said. At least 10 people were rescued from the house and a search was ongoing for more survivors, it added. The state-run network 2M put the death toll at 28, citing police sources.

Photos and videos of heavy rains, and the dead bodies of men and women being taken out of the house, were widely circulated on social media, sparking outrage online. Some witnesses told local news sites that some of the victims had been electrocuted, but there was no official confirmation of that.

The interior ministry said it was investigating.

The owner of the factory hasn’t been identified, but according to local news reports, he was on the scene at the time of the disaster and is under medical supervision.

Local news media reported that flooding was a common problem in Tangier despite heavy investment to prevent it. Many factories are still operating illegally in houses in dangerous conditions, they said.

The streets around the house remained flooded after the accident, and a number of cars were trapped in the water as ambulances rushed survivors to hospitals.

A witness cited by local news media said that there was heavy rainfall in the morning and that rescuers, with the help of neighbors, had struggled to pull bodies out, given the high level of the water.

A member of parliament from Tangier, Mohamed Khayi, during a televised session at parliament, called on the labor minister, Mohamed Amekraz, to investigate what happened and ensure it does not happen again.

“This is a very sad day for Tangier,” he said. “We hope we will determine who is responsible. This is our collective responsibility.”

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