Sep 11, 2023 - Podcasts

Morocco earthquake kills thousands

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Morocco late Friday night near Marrakech. More than 2,100 people were killed and over 2,400 injured, as of Sunday. The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers continue to search through the rubble for survivors.

  • Plus, how local governments are handling the humanitarian crisis for migrants across U.S. cities.
  • And, what to know about the weekend's G20 summit in India.

Guests: Axios' Hans Nichols and Stef Kight.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Alexandra Botti, Fonda Mwangi, Robin Linn and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can send questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.


NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today! It's Monday, September 11th. I'm Niala Boodhoo. Today: local governments respond to a migrant influx in U.S. cities. Plus, the weekend's G20 summit. But first: an earthquake in Morocco kills thousands. That's today's One Big Thing.

A rising death toll in Morocco

NIALA: A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Morocco over the weekend – more than 2,100 people were killed and over 2,400 injured as of Sunday night. That death toll is expected to rise as rescuers continue to search through the rubble for survivors. The earthquake struck late Friday night near Marrakech, the strongest quake to hit the area in more than a century. Historic sites, homes, buildings and whole villages were damaged or destroyed. More than 300,000 people were affected by the quake. That's according to The World Health Organization. King Mohammed VI declared three days of national mourning. Several countries and the U.N. offered their support to Morocco. Here's U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking with ABC News.

ANTONY BLINKEN: We're tracking this very carefully, and our hearts go out to the people of Morocco who suffered this devastating earthquake. And we stand ready to help in any way that we can. And some other stories we're following: Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. And New York City officials announced they have just identified two more victims. According to the mayor's office, the man and woman identified are the 1,648th and 1,649th victims identified by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner through advanced DNA testing. They are the first identifications in two years — and more than 1000 human remains from 9/11 have yet to be identified. And: leaders of the world's biggest economies gathered at the annual G20 summit in India this weekend. Axios' Hans Nichols has the takeaways.

HANS NICHOLS: This was a moderately successful G20. It's testament to India's leadership that it was pulled off in a way it was, and there were some accomplishments around the margins. namely, the U.S., uh, working with the Indians and the Emiratis and other Middle Eastern countries, have this new rail link. And I think that's gonna be one of the potential lasting consequences out of this G20. The other, of course, is they've included the African Union now as a permanent member. That was always a goal. But in some ways, this was a more forgettable G20, right? President Xi didn't come, that was a kind of hung over a lot of the conversation. There are a lot of theories about why he didn't come. And then on the war in Ukraine and Russia's aggression there. The G20 actually toned down its statement and that caused some consternation and that there was an idea going into that maybe you'd have another strong statement, not necessarily from the G20, because of course that includes, you know, Russia and Ukraine, but from the other countries. So, you know, in general, I think you know, we'll look back at this G20, if anything, it will be somewhat forgettable. I do think that the main lasting consequences will be, you know, the rail link, inclusion of African Union, and just the larger, I hesitate to use the word pivot, but I'm going to use it, and that is the pivot towards India. Remember in the Obama administration, there's lots of conversation about pivoting towards Asia. This is more of a pivot to the Indo Pacific, but there's such a priority from top to bottom inside the Biden administration on solidifying ties with India, culturally, economically, and militarily. And that was one of the goals that the White House had coming into this. And on that front, they certainly achieved it.

NIALA: That's Axios' Politics Reporter Hans Nichols After the break, U.S. cities struggle to manage an influx of migrants.

A migrant crisis in U.S. cities

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios. Today I'm Niala Boodhoo. Cities around the country are experiencing a major influx of new immigrants, one that most can't accommodate, and the result is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis. Axios' Stef Kight has been reporting on this in depth. Hi Stef.

STEF KITE: Hi Niala.

NIALA: So, what cities are we seeing the highest numbers of people arriving?

STEF: We're seeing lots of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in cities all across the U.S. Of course, New York City has been a focus, with Mayor Adams being very outspoken about the concerns that he has about the number of people arriving there. But we're also seeing people flock to Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and we're seeing a lot of localities struggle to really meet the need that they're seeing there. Whether it's the shelter spaces running out of space or other nonprofits struggling to make sure migrants who are showing up with very little provisions are actually cared for.

NIALA: Everyone has seen, probably, these headlines of governors busing migrants from the southern border to other states. Do we know in aggregate how many people we're talking about here?

STEF: All in all, since Texas began busing people to these various Democratic-run cities, they have sent tens of thousands of migrants on these buses. They've sent more than 11,000 migrants to Washington D.C. They've sent more than 13,000 migrants now to New York City. They've also sent migrants to Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, and Los Angeles.

NIALA: And how local leaders are responding…You mentioned New York City. Here's Mayor Eric Adams at a town hall last week.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS: This issue will destroy New York City. Destroy New York City. We're getting 10,000 migrants a month.

NIALA: Steph, is that sentiment shared by other big city mayors like in Washington or Chicago, which I should add, they're all Democrats.

STEF: We're certainly hearing frustration from leaders in many of these cities. Of course, Mayor Adams has certainly been the most outspoken, but we're hearing from leaders in all of these cities really asking the federal government to do more. They're asking for more resources. One big ask has been for the Biden administration to find a way to expedite migrants' ability to legally work in the U.S.. A lot of people on the ground has said that has been an issue where people are waiting for weeks or months to get their work permits in order to be able to work and move out of these shelters. So while Adams has maybe been the most politically outspoken, we have certainly been hearing serious concern and pointed fingers at the Biden administration from leaders in various cities.

NIALA: How has the Biden administration responded to all of that?

STEF: The Biden administration clearly sees this as an issue. They sent the Department of Homeland Security into New York to kind of do an analysis. But they have also, behind closed doors, they see a lot of these, pointed fingers as just political posturing. For example, when it comes to work permits for asylum seekers in particular, there is a legally required 180 day wait, and that's something the administration says they can't change. They need Congress to change.

NIALA: And so as these people are coming into, especially these large American cities, what are they experiencing?

STEF: Well, we're seeing, you know, many of them, thousands of them waiting in homeless shelters and migrant shelters for long periods of time trying to figure out their next steps. Of course, these are their destinations of choice, and I think that's an important point to remember. It's not necessarily that Texas and other Republican states are choosing these destinations for migrants who have recently arrived. In many cases, these are the cities that have long welcomed immigrants. And that's one of the reasons why it's a little bit surprising to now see these Democratic leaders feel overwhelmed by the number of people arriving. And I think it's important to remember that it's not just the current surge over the past two months. It's also the fact that now for years we have seen higher than normal numbers of people coming across the border, whether they're seeking asylum or seeking parole processes, and we already have an immigration system that's severely outdated and severely backlogged. So one trend that I'm looking at really carefully is the fact that we've seen a significant spike in Mexican family members coming across the U.S.-Mexico, which is very unusual. While Mexican migration has, you know, long been a common occurrence at the U.S.-Mexico border, the fact that we're seeing a rise in families is very significant.

NIALA: That's Axios' Stef Kite. We'll include a link to her reporting in our show notes. Thanks Stef.

STEF: Thanks Niala.

Hurricane hunting

NIALA: Finally today, a peek ahead to tomorrow's show. We've been watching the path of Hurricane Lee, a powerful storm over the Atlantic. And as forecasters track the storm I had a chance to watch it unfold in real time. I just returned from a flight this weekend on a Hurricane Hunter, flying with a NOAA team into Hurricane Lee. Jack Parrish was the flight director, and I spoke with him on board.

JACK PARRISH: So many people live in harm's way and with rising sea levels that just adds and exacerbates the problem. But there's still a lot that's not known. And so, I certainly can hope that the technology on the airplane keeps up with the need to warn those populated areas.

NIALA: That's Hurricane Hunter Jack Parrish. And I'll share much more of this adventure with you tomorrow, including what I learned about U.S. efforts to track extreme weather and our changing climate.

That's it for us today! I'm Niala Boodhoo. Thanks for listening, stay safe and we'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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