1 of 2 | Moroccan rescue teams members works amid the rubble of a house destroyed in the powerful earthquake, which hit the country two days earlier, in the village of Talat N'Yaaqoub, south of Marrakesh, Morocco, on Monday. Photo by Mohamed Messara/EPA-EFE
Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The death toll from last week's earthquake in Morocco rose to 2,497 people Monday as recovery teams continued a desperate search of the rubble for more survivors.
The total number of injured reached 2,476 following Friday night's magnitude-6.8 temblor in the High Atlas Mountains -- the strongest to hit central Morocco in more than 120 years.
The greatest number of deaths were reported in villages near the epicenter, including 1,452 in Al Haouz, 764 in Taroudant, 202 in Chichaoua, and 18 in Marrakech, according to a statement from Morocco's Interior Ministry.
The quake left another 40 dead in Moulay Ibrahim, while destroying an entire village in Ouirgane.
No new deaths were reported Monday in the provinces of Ouarzazate, Azilal, Agadir Idaoutnan, Greater Casablanca, Youssoufia, and Tinghir, the ministry said.
Many remain missing as the search and recovery effort unfolded, but hope to find survivors was fading with each passing day.
Armed forces and international aid teams were trying to reach isolated mountain areas where people were likely trapped in collapsed homes and buildings, but some places remained too dangerous to search.
Meanwhile Monday, a Moroccan army helicopter dropped emergency humanitarian aid to mountain villages whose main thoroughfares were cut off by landslides.
Morocco's King Mohammed VI declared three days of national mourning and on Sunday ordered mosques to hold funeral prayers for the dead.
The government set up a tent camp in the town of Asni, while volunteers from across the country brought food, water and other emergency supplies to the region.
The international community also responded to the quake Monday, with Spain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates sending the earliest humanitarian aid, and Britain dispatching a 60-member rescue team with four cadaver dogs to help the search effort. China's Red Cross also sent $200,000 in emergency assistance, while France has pledged $5.3 million to help the response effort.
Rescue workers used their bare hands, drills and pick-axes to dig through the ruins, where many were found alive over the weekend and evacuated from the region.
The stench of death filled the air as an untold number of bodies were unreachable beneath the destruction and as desertlike heat baked the region.
The disaster has displaced as many as 300,000 people in the region -- with many sleeping outside since the quake struck three nights ago, the United Nations said.
The U.S. State Department said that only a small number of Americans were injured in the quake, but as of Monday none had been reported dead.