Malé Water and Sewerages Company (MWSC) has cut off all water supplies in the capital Malé after underground cables connecting the switch room and generator caught fire.
Local media reported MWSC – the sole provider of clean desalinated water in the capital – as saying that the water services had to be cut off in order to control the damage and that the service was employing all available means to restart the service within the next few hours.
The company has announced that water will be made available temporarily between 8pm – 9pm this evening, and again between 8am and 9pm tomorrow.
Minister of Defence Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim has declared the situation a disaster, setting up a task force and distributing free water via local shops. Local media has begun to report long queues forming outside shops to buy water as well as the price being increased in certain stores.
Police have confirmed one shopkeeper has been attacked, with Vaguthu reporting the assault as resulting from a failure to sell customers the desired amount of water.
Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) spokesperson Major Hussain Ali told Minivan News that the fire was reported to the fire and rescue department at around 1.40pm.
“MNDF officers were on the scene shortly and started working on controlling the fire. The fire was completely extinguished at around 3.25pm,” said Major Hussain.
An MNDF press statement detailing the incident read that the firemen on scene removed some of the ducts in order determine the source of the fire and that a separate team were then called to clear the thick smoke observed in the area.
Police confirmed that they are now investigating the cause of the fire.
MWSC does not rely on electricity generated by State Electric Company but instead operates its own generators to provide electricity for the desalination plant.
Most households in the capital rely on MWSC for their daily water needs, with well water – the traditional method of acquiring water – having become unhygienic due to poor drainage and leakage of contaminants into groundwater.
*story updated at 8:15pm