Maldives

Maldives: Coastal flooding OCHA Situation Report No. 1

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This situation report is based on information received from the Maldives' National Disaster Management Center, the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in the Maldives, as well as from the OCHA Regional Office for Asia and Pacific in Bangkok.

SITUATION

1. A series of wave surges of varying magnitude hit about 35 islands in 13 Atolls across the Maldives on 15-17 May 2007, causing inundation up to 600m from the coastline. Southern atolls of the Maldives, especially Seenu and Gaafu Dhaalu, were particularly affected due to their flatness as well as their location in the open sea. The wave that affected the southern atolls had wavelength of 350 - 433 meters, which doubled in height as it approached the coastline.

2. The disaster resulted in no human casualties, although four persons were wounded and some 1649 people were evacuated.(1) 217 housing units were damaged and 258 more were otherwise affected by the flooding. Three days of wave swells caused extensive damage to the home gardens and other means of livelihood; 43 vegetation sites were destroyed, about 15 sea vessels were damaged. The disaster caused partial damage to a number of harbour and jetties as eroded sections of beaches and coastline walls.

3. The seawater incursion contaminated the wells and the groundwater table, causing shortage of drinking water in some islands. Septic tanks were damaged or filled with seawater, causing sewage to flood some areas. The tide also flooded some landfills and scattered trash throughout the affected area, raising sanitation concerns. Cleaning-up operations are in progress.

4. The healthcare facilities were not damaged and have assisted the affected populations. No major outbreaks were reported. Nevertheless, cases of tsunami-related trauma among the population, including children, were reported. The schools were not affected and continue to function on schedule.

5. A Rapid Assessment Team, comprised of Government personnel and IFRC and UN counterparts, was deployed on 19 May 2007 to conduct a rapid assessment of five islands of Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll: Fares-Maathodaa, Fiyoare, Rathafandhoo, Nadellaa, and Madaveli. The assessment is to focus on infrastructure, health, water-sanitation, livelihood, environment and emergency relief needs. The final report is expected to be released by Government of Maldives in the next few days.

II. NATIONAL RESPONSE

6. The Government of Maldives provided emergency relief assistance (food, water supply, mattresses) to the affected communities. A mobile water desalination plant had been dispatched by the Government's National Disaster Management Center.

7. The Department of Meteorology has been monitoring the weather situation and issued warning information to communities. The National Disaster Management Center provided updated situation reports of the island situation as well as coordinated Government's assessment and emergency relief assistance efforts.

8. The Government of Maldives issued an appeal for assistance to the international community. It also made a formal appeal for assistance to the UN Secretary General to assist in the immediate relief and early recovery efforts.

III. INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE

9. UNICEF provided ten water tanks and five rain-water harvesting kits to the most affected Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. IFRC is preparing provision of drinking water in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll. American Red Cross is organizing a parents-teachers meeting to assess stress levels among children.

10. WHO is coordinating with the Ministry of Health on possible health assistance that may be required. UNDP is liaising with national authorities in order to provide support in the areas of livelihoods recovery and coordination. OCHA has offered the UN Resident Coordinator its assistance in coordinating international response, as well as technical assistance in environmental impact assessment and disaster prevention and risk reduction.

11. The UN System and IFRC are awaiting the report of the rapid assessment team to identify next steps and will accordingly update partners.

Map: Maldives: Floods - Location Map

Note

(1) Population of the Maldives is estimated at 369,000.

For detailed information please contact:

OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok)
Mr. Rajan Gengaje, Regional Disaster Response Adviser
Tel. + 66-2288-2572, Fax: +66-2288-1043, Mob. + 66-8-1916-1271
e-mail: gengaje@un.org

Desk Officers:
(NY) Mr. Wojtek Wilk, Tel. +1-917 367 9748, e-mail: wilkw@un.org
(GVA) Mr. Guadelupe deSousa, Tel. +41-22-917 4339

Press contact:
(NY) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Tel. +1-917 367 5126
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Tel. +41-22-917 2653

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.