No speedboat was available near Huraa following the drowning of four students and principal of Hiriya School, Police Chief Inspector Abdulla Nawaz told media today.
Police were informed of the incident at 9:48am in the morning and the police duty officer immediately called the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), and was informed that MNDF officers were on it, Nawaz said.
The four female students and the principal of ‘Hiriya’ drowned while on a fisheries science study trip. Police and MNDF were called immediately but were criticised for being unable to reach the island until long after the incident.
About an hour after the drownings, the bodies of the students and principal were brought to Male’ on a speedboat from nearby Four Season Kuda Hura resort.
Speaking in a press conference, Nawaz said that information of the incident was passed to the police station on the island of Himmafushi, approximately 3 km from Hura.
Nawaz said that Himmafushi Police Station’s Head tried to hire a speedboat from the island but because it was Friday morning, no speedboats were available.
He said police then called the Island Council of Hura and requested they make a request to Four Seasons Kuda Hura resort, the council had already done so.
Nawaz said that although the police could not arrive to the island on time, it was to be noted that police went to the jetty in Male’ and received the bodies, and carried them to the hospital.
Nawaz also said that police were still investigating the incident and had not been able to question any students who witnessed the incident, as they were traumatised and not ready to talk about it.
Meanwhile, today the parliament’s ”241′ Security Services Committee summoned Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh and Chief of Defence Force Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel to question them about the lateness in providing service of the forces when called for help.
Newly-formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP and Media Coordinator Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that Faseeh and Moosa were summoned to the committee to clarify the truth of the various accusations that the forces had neglected their duty.
“Nawaz failed to tell the media how long it took the police to reach the island, and he has not answered queries made by the journalists,” he said. “That’s why it was important to sit down with them and clarify the media reports and other allegations on police.”
Nihan said that this was a national issue but “the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs disrupted the meeting today and the meeting had to be cancelled.”
He alleged that the government had poorly treated the family of the only girl who survived in the incident, Hawwa Ali, by asking them to pay her medical bills for the first two days.
“But the girl happens to be in my constituency and I called government senior officials and requested them to do it a better way, and now I think it is arranged and the government is assisting the family with everything,” he claimed.
Nihan said that the girl’s family had requested the government to move her to another ward because she was currently in the children’s ward at IGMH and the sound of children cry was making her recall the incident.
“She was the only person who saw everything, she heard the children crying for help, she saw the girls drowning right in front of her,” Nihan said.
Hawwa was a friend of Aishath Shaniha, who died in the incident. Hawwa almost drowned but was rescued by the school principal and was holding a rope while the principal attempted to rescue the other students that were drowning.
Nihan claimed that police “would have had 20 speedboats in the islands” during the former government.