Diarrhea, vomiting, high fevers in the middle of the Sahara desert. The Trek Rose Trip, a solidarity orienteering race, turned into an ordeal for more than a quarter of the participants from October 26 to 30. Between 200 and 300 women are said to have fallen ill during the ordeal, perhaps victims of bacteria in the Moroccan desert. “We are fully cooperating with the health investigation which is taking place on site to determine the nature and origin of the epidemic as well as how it spread. The entire Rose Trip team would like to once again express its support for the participants affected, and unable to complete the trek,” said organizer Désertours.
Analyzes are underway to determine the origin of this massacre in the ranks of the participants. This started on the first day: around sixty competitors complaining, among other things, of digestion problems. Several of them pointed out a lack of hygiene in the organization and particularly during refueling. “The kitchens and toilets are not very far, separated by a few meters. The drainage for all these toilets was a pipe which went behind the sanitary tents, which went into a pit which had been dug. Everything was in the open air,” one of the trekkers, Isabelle Brunel, told BFM. Around fifteen participants were exfiltrated to Moroccan hospitals after suffering from dehydration.
“We realize that the septic tank is open to the sky, that it is located barely 10 meters near the kitchens and the tents where we sleep,” another athlete testified to France 3 Auvergne Rhône-Alpes. “We could hear them vomiting at night, bending over in pain. I saw young women suffering on the ground,” underlines this same woman.
The Red Cross staff who provided medical assistance were quickly overwhelmed by the situation, which had become nightmarish. According to some sources, the nursing staff no longer had enough medicines or transfusions available to try to treat everyone. “Some did not have time to go to the toilets which were saturated anyway. They were reduced to doing their business behind the tents. They couldn't clean themselves, others remained dirty all night, their hair in their vomit and droppings,” denounces Karine.
A collective was set up to collect all the testimonies and help the investigation move forward even if the avenues leading to E-Coli or Shigella infections are closely studied. The collective also plans to take the case to court if there has been negligence in the organization. “We paid 1,700 euros excluding airfare for our trip and upon arriving, we found a very rudimentary base camp, far from the thousand and one nights praised on the Désertours website. The breakfasts were not suitable for a sporting event. The water from the toilets was draining into the kitchen. There was only one brush for eight toilets…” regrets one of the participants, Cécile Masson, to Paris Match before denouncing: “The organizers put the health of 800 women at risk with rudimentary equipment. »