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'I thought it was the end of the world': Children recall terrifying moment 6.8 magnitude quake hit

The stench of death wafted through the village of Imi N’Tala high up in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, where last week's catastrophic earthquake razed the hamlet's mud-brick buildings and killed dozens of residents.

Bulldozers and responders have been digging through the wreckage around the clock in the hopes of finding the eight to 10 corpses still underneath, even as an aftershock Wednesday evening rattled already frayed nerves.

Moroccan Royal Palace/AP
In this photo released by the Royal Palace, Morocco's King Mohammed VI, center, goes to the "Mohammed VI" University Hospital in Marrakech, Morocco. Tuesday 12, 2023. - Moroccan Royal Palace/AP

"The mountain was split in half and started falling. Houses were fully destroyed," local man Ait Ougadir Al Houcine said, as crews worked to recover bodies, including his sister's.

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“Everything is gone.”

Lives have been forever changed. In every town and village impacted, exhausted rescue workers are also trying to put a smile back on the faces of children traumatized by the disaster.

Around 530 schools and 55 boarding schools were destroyed or damaged. Classes have been suspended.

"The ceiling of my room fell in, it was dark, I was calling my father and mother under the rubble," one child named Houda recalled.

"I could hear people calling to find me, I thought it was the end of the world. They managed to save me and my mother, but my little sister and my father died."

"I'm afraid of another tremor," another little girl called Nora said.

"I'm worried about my mother, she was pregnant and the baby died."