By Will Jordan in Male'
Dozens of islands across the Maldives have reportedly been affected by a large swell that struck the country on Tuesday. The government says the number of inhabited islands affected is 55 out of a total of 197, but some local reports say 80.
The people of Fares Mathoda, Gaaf Dhaal atoll, reportedly abandoned the island, which was submerged, and took to boats at around 12:30 last night. Waves are also reportedly lashing Gadhdhoo, Gaaf Daal atoll.
The south of the country has been hit hardest, notably Addu , Gaaf Dhaal, Laam, Thaa , Dhaal and Lhaviyani atolls. Residents report damage to houses and missing and damaged furniture, but no buildings have been destroyed.
The Maldives Meteorological Office warned all islands to be braced for further unusual tides through Wednesday and possibly Thursday. The Met Office cannot explain why the sudden swell has taken place but has said it is definitely not the result of a tsunami.
The swells are a common phenomenon, but it is unprecedented for so many islands to be hit at one time. The worst affected islands appear to be those exposed to open sea, the "fringe islands."
A swell of between one and two feet first washed through about ten islands at around 9.30am Tuesday morning, causing much flooding, and has continued to affect further islands.
Many homes have been flooded by the swell, and many families have been left without electricity.
Four police teams have been dispatched to the worst affected islands to help bring people to safety. The Maldives National Defence Force has been working to drain water, barricade houses and clean up, a statement says.
MNDF coastguard teams have been working in Kunahandhoo, Laam atoll, Madaveli Gaaf Alif atoll and Addu atoll overnight, and were in Hinnavaru, Lhaviyani atoll yesterday. Coastguard ship "Huravee" left Male' last night carrying aid and to provide support.
The Maldivian Democratic Party has set up a hotline to build up a picture of what has happened and the extent of the damage. The number is 3343625.
- Maldives Independent
- Minivan News - http://www.minivannews.com/