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Moroccan community in NYC dealing with heavy heart following devastating earthquake

ASTORIA, Queens (WABC) — Now, more than ever, food at Little Morocco Restaurant in Astoria is a welcomed distraction as owner Driss Lazhar and his workers get updates from family back home in Morocco.

“If you could see my eyes, I was crying this morning that I’m not capable or have the time to be there to participate and do something,” Lazhar said.

Friday evening local time, a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit about 44 miles southwest of Marrakech. The epicenter, in the High Atlas Mountains, is remote – homes in villages there were not built to withstand such a powerful blow.

Hichim Dajhajh’s grandmother, who was in her late 90s, was killed.

“The whole house vanished, went down. Another young girl also died in the house,” said Dajhajh.

Seeing all the images, he also wishes he could be home after losing the matriarch of his family.

“She was a wonderful lady, the whole family gathered around her. She was very humble and very helpful,” said Dajhajh.

Sunday begins an official three days of mourning – mosques are holding funeral prayers. In the end, hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by all of this, sparking a fast, widespread international response.

That is something Lazhar is also monitoring from his small restaurant on Steinway Street. He, too has been bombarded with calls from people asking how they can help.

“When crisis like this happens, you see everybody. Muslims, non-Muslims, Atheists – everybody participates and we should do that after this crisis – do the same thing, the world will be a better place to live,” Lazhar says.

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