(MENAFN - AFP) A 40-day-old baby has died of the cold in Morocco's Atlas mountains, witnesses said Monday, after a winter freeze and reports that four other infants had earlier perished in similar circumstances.
Habiba Amelou died on Friday morning in the village of Anifgou after suffering from a severe cough, according to two witnesses.
"I spoke to her father, who was heartbroken. She was 40 days old and died from a severe cough caused by the cold," Mounir Kejji, a Berber activist in the region, told AFP.
Another young man from the village who helped with the funeral on Friday said the baby had vomitted blood.
"Before she died, she had a bad cough and was vomiting blood. Her body couldn't handle the extreme cold, especially with the lack of medicine in the area, which has experienced heavy snowfall," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The news was also carried by Moroccan Arabic-language daily Al-Akhbaron Monday, and comes after local press reports of at least four babies in the region had already died from the cold weather so far this winter.
The interior ministry earlier denied what it called "rumours" circulated in the media about the babies dying because of the cold.
But last week, Moroccan Health Minister Hossein El Ouardi visited the region, and the ministry said on Monday that it was launching a campaign to provide medical aid to the region, as part of efforts to combat the effects of cold winter weather. It said more than 2,400 people would benefit.
Anfgou lies at an altitude of 1,600 metres in the Middle Atlas mountains, around 350 kilometres (220 miles) southeast of Rabat.
The remote mountainous region around Anfgou suffers from a crippling lack of infrastructure, with many roads unpassable in the winter months and residents complaining of having to transport basic supplies by mule for long distances along icy roads.