Lithuanian tourist drowns near Hulhumalé

A 22-year-old Lithuanian tourist has drowned close to Hulhumalé, reports Haveeru.

The man is said to have gone for a swim at around 2:45am (January 31) while under the influence of alcohol.

Police have said that the man’s body was retrieved by a deckhand on the safari boat ‘Ari’ which was docked in Hulhumalé harbour.

His body was taken to Hulhumalé hospital.

Source: Haveeru


British tourist drowned while snorkelling

The body of a British tourist – missing since Saturday – has been found off the coast of Biyaadhoo resort in South Malé atoll.

The 65 year old man who had not been seen since going to snorkel alone is presumed to have drowned. His body has been taken to Maafushi Health Centre.

A recent spate of drowning incidents in the Maldives – more often including Chinese tourists – last month prompted the Ministry of Tourism to consult industry stakeholders and relevant government authorities regarding ways to improve safety.

A questionnaire was subsequently sent to all tourist establishments to gather more information on these incidents before a forum is held later this month.


Chinese tourist drowns near Vilamendhoo resort

A Chinese tourist staying at the Vilamendhoo Resort in Alif Dhaal atoll drowned while out swimming yesterday (November 4), local media reports.

A source from the resort told CNM that the body of the drowned man was discovered in the afternoon and police were duly informed.

Last week, the body of a 25 year-old Chinese tourist staying at Alsana Velaavaru Resort was found floating in the sea near the resort.

Tourist deaths – usually while snorkeling – are disproportionately higher among Chinese tourists, which now account for a majority of Maldives’ tourist arrivals, compared to the traditional European market.


Singaporean woman drowns at Embudu Village Resort

A Singaporean woman on vacation with her husband at Embudu Village Resort died while snorkeling, the second such incident at the resort in the past three years.

The 34 year-old Singaporean, Irene Soon, drowned last Saturday (May 4) in a snorkelling accident at Embudu Village resort, located eight kilometres from Male’ in Kaafu Atoll.

Soon was snorkeling near the main jetty area of the resort and is believed to have drowned, however the case is still under investigation a police media official told Minivan News today (May 12).

Soon, an insurance manager, was vacationing with her husband in the Maldives to celebrate her recent promotion. Soon and her 37 year-old husband Mike Lie were snorkeling for the first time and taking photos with a rented underwater camera when the incident occurred, reported Singaporean publication the New Paper.

The publication claims that a dive instructor ran over after Soon had been pulled from the water and asked Lie how long she had been underwater. Allegedly Lie responded that he was unsure, but “maybe 10 minutes”.

Lie then asked the “Aren’t you going to CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or something?” at which point the dive instructor said “there was no point”, claims the publication.

“She was snorkeling with her husband, taking photographs then somebody saw her motionless, lifeless, in the water,” Embudu Village General Manager Ramsay Perera told Minivan News today.

“The dive instructor did give emergency care and performed CPR. She was then taken to ADK hospital via speed boat,” he claimed.

Perera explained that the dive school staff is “well equipped” and trained in CPR, however there is no in house doctor at the resort.

“The dive school staff are very observant most of the time. It was calm weather and very shallow water. She was briefed [about snorkeling safety] when she arrived at the resort and was wearing a life-jacket, snorkel and fins [when the incident occurred],” Perera said.

Snorkel at your own risk

After approximately an hour of snorkeling Lie decided to take a break because saltwater was “getting into his mask and nose”. Lie was standing in shallow water next to the resort’s pier watching his wife continue to snorkel and diverted his gaze for five minutes to watch a group of guests learning to scuba dive. When Lie looked back for his wife, she was nowhere to be seen.

“That was when I realised, ‘Oh my goodness,’ the weather is bad, cloudy and drizzling. I decided to swim out,” Lie said. “I was worried, I wanted to get her out of the weather and say it was time to go back.”

While Lie hurried to put his snorkelling gear back on to swim out and look for Soon, she was being pulled from the water by a German uncle and nephew, with her body face down on the seabed.

The German tourists noticed that Soon’s snorkeling tube was underwater and swam out to where she was floating.

“I was shocked, I wondered what I could do to save her. Her fingernails and toenails were purple. I tried calling her name, she didn’t answer. I frantically felt for her pulse, but there was none,” said Lie.

Soon was snorkeling in water about one metre deep. “It would have taken effort for her to stand with flippers on her feet and corals below,” explained Lie.

Soon was not a strong swimmer and her husband recalled swimming together fewer than 10 times in the last 12 years they had known each other. “She wouldn’t do laps, just short distances,” Lie recalled.

Lie said there no lifeguards were present at the Embudu Village beach, however he and his wife had been briefed about water safety upon their arrival at the resort. During the briefing, entry points into the water and coral bed areas were discussed, as well as advice not to swim too far away from shore. They were also told that “activities were carried out at their own risk”.

Lie returned to Singapore May 6 and Soon’s body arrived the morning of May 9. During her wake, Lie told Singaporean media that he regrets “taking his eyes off my wife.. or else, this might not have happened.”

Second death

Soon’s drowning is the second such incident at Embudu Village Resort. In February 2010, a 69 year-old German tourist died while snorkelling at the resort.

A senior staff member at Embudu Village told Minivan News at the time that the man was snorkeling with his friend.

”His friend noticed that he had been floating in the water without movement for a while and went to help him,” the staff member said at the time. ”When he shook him he did not move, so he knew that something was wrong. The sea was calm and there was low tide at the time.”

There have been a string of tourist deaths while snorkeling in recent years.

A 51 year-old Italian tourist died in a boat propeller accident while snorkeling in January of this year near Elaa Island in Thaa Atoll.

During 2012, tourist deaths – usually while snorkelling – were disproportionately higher among Chinese visitors, who now account for a majority of Maldives tourist arrivals compared to the country’s traditional European market.

Mohamed Ibrahim ‘Sim’ from the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) pointed out in a 2012 interview with Minivan News that Chinese guests in particular needed to be made more aware of the dangers of snorkeling in the Maldives, “because it is a totally different environment than what they are used to.”

Many resorts and Chinese tour operators have reacted to the higher incidence of casualties by issuing life-jackets to Chinese guests on arrival. However, despite efforts to adapt to a market which in 2011 brought over 100,000 visitors to resort beaches and house reefs, Sim observed that “things still have not changed” as Chinese fatalities remain higher compared to European market.

Two Chinese nationals vacationing on two different resorts in the Maldives were found dead within 48 hours in suspected snorkeling accidents in 2012.

A Chinese woman identified as Shuhui Li, aged 58, was pronounced dead after she was pulled out from the waters of Lily Beach resort on January 26, 2012, while a Chinese man identified as Ding Hai, aged 30, was found dead whilst snorkeling at the newly-opened Ayada resort the following afternoon.

In October 2012, a 26 year-old male from China staying at Alif Dhaal Atoll Vakafaru resort was suspected to have died in a snorkelling accident at the property.

In December 2012, a Chinese tourist was reported missing from the Bandos Island Resort and Spa property.

Earlier in 2012, a French tourist, identified as 49 year-old Alan Marshall, went missing during a late afternoon swim while vacationing on Club Med Kanifinolhu resort with his wife, daughter and son-in-law. A day later he was found dead near Paradise Island Resort.

A 36 year-old Chinese tourist was also found dead off the coast of Sun Island Resort and Spa in January 2011.

In August 2011, a decomposing female body was found on the shore of the Adhaaran Hudhuranfushi resort, a week after a 29 year-old Japanese tourist and her 37 year-old husband were reported missing from the property.

On March 14, 2010 police received a report that a Chinese national, Rui Dai, died while snorkeling at Holiday Inn Kandooma Resort, in Kaafu Atoll.

Earlier that same month another Chinese man died while snorkeling at Chaaya Lagoon Hakurahura Island Resort, less than a day after a German tourist died in a snorkeling accident at Embudu Village Island Resort.

In mid-August 2010 a Chinese couple vacationing in the Maldives disappeared from their resort after going for a swim. The 38 year-old woman and 40 year-old man were staying with their 13 year-old daughter on the Hilton Irufushi Beach and Spa Resort in Noonu Atoll.

In September 2010 a 48-year old Chinese woman died while snorkeling at Paradise Island Resort and Spa.

A top UK transplant surgeon died while snorkeling on holiday at the Adaaran Meedhupparu Resort in Raa Atoll in September 2010.

The following month, Sharon Duval, a 42 year-old British woman died while on honeymoon. Her body was found on the shore of Kuredhoo Island Resort.


German tourist drowns while snorkelling

Haveeru have reported the drowning of a German tourist in Enboodhoo Village Resort in Kaafu Atoll.

Police said that the man died while snorkelling on Wednesday morning. His body was brought to Male’ at around 11.45am.

Police said the man was aged 63 and had been holidaying with his wife. Investigations are ongoing.


Body of missing 37 year old woman found in Kudahuvadhoo lagoon

Police are investigating the death of a 37 year-old woman who was found floating in the lagoon of Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaal Atoll this morning.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said a search began after the woman was reported missing at 2:00 am last night.

President of the Kudahuvadhoo Island Council Ibrahin Fikry told newspaper Haveeru that the woman, identified as ‘Sheereena’ of Kaneeruge, was found near the island’s breakwater at 6:00am. She was bleeding from an injury between her nose and mouth, as if she had been punched or hit, Fikry told Haveeru.

However Sub-Inspector Shiyam told Minivan News that police had not noticed any incriminating injuries on the body and were not yet treating the incident as suspicious.

“The injuries could have [happened] in many ways. We are speaking to family members and the people who saw her last,” he said.


Australian medics donate boards, advice in honor of Huraa victims

Two rescue boards have been donated by an Australian paremedic and shire council in memory of the four Hiriya students and their principal who drowned on a September 10 school fisheries science excursion.

The long boards were arranged by a Lotus Special Casualty Access Team paramedic in cooperation with the New South Wales Sutherland Shire council. A report from Australian publication The Leader indicates that the boards were flown into Male’ on Wednesday, October 20 to support safety management practices on local beaches.

Australia is known globally for its surfing culture. Attached to that reputation is a savvy sense for water rescue. Australia’s own Surfers’ Medical Association (SMA) reportedly flies doctors and paramedics to Maldive islands twice each year, providing health workshops and medical equipment.

When four female students and the principal of Hiriya school drowned while on a fisheries science snorkeling trip off of Huraa island, awareness of the lack of school safety procedures and equipment was raised at the local and government levels.

The students were snorkeling in waters used by for national defense training, which are known for having very strong currents.

Although police and MNDF forces were called immediately to the site of the incident, they were criticised for being unable to reach the island until long after the critical moments.

Instead, the bodies of ninth grade students Nash-ath Saeed, Mariyam Naza, Aishath Saniha, Mariyam Shaiha and principal Ali Nazim were brought to Male’ on a speedboat from nearby Four Season Kuda Hura resort.

SMA member Paul Featherstone told The Leader that Huraa island had no rescue boards at the time of the Hiriya drowning, and he hoped the donation would make a difference in the future.

The SMA team is expected to deliver water safety and education advice from Sutherland Shire beach operation manager Brad Whittacker, along with the long boards. Paramedic Harry Gatt added that a meeting with the education minister has been scheduled to discuss risk management procedures.

“We really need to help educate them about water safety,” Mr Gatt was quoted as saying. “The community is just devastated by what happened.”


Findings in Huraa drowning investigation revealed to families

The Education Ministry has shared the results of its investigation into the drowning accident in Kaafu atoll Huraa with families of the deceased. The accident left four students and a principal of Hiriya School dead earlier this month.

Details of the investigation have not been released to the public.

The Ministry did issue a statement recommending schools amend their budgets to accommodate a program which would establish safety measures, implement precautionary measures at campsites jointly with relevant authorities, and familiarise management officials and employees with these measures by the end of the year, Haveeru reports.

Police are continuing their investigation of the incident. Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said investigators are taking care to respect families and friends involved.

“The police are doing a very detailed investigation, and we are respecting the victims’ families, students, teachers and classmates. We have to give them time to recover, so we are not forcing them to participate more than they are willing to at this time,” said Shiyam.

Shiyam said evidence from the site of the incident and nearby Huraa island has been gathered and is being processed. He said the investigation will be done as soon as possible.

Minister Shifa Mohamed, School Board Chairperson, Deputy Education Minister Dr Abdulla Nazeer and Dr Abdul Muhsin Mohamed, who chaired the committee tasked to investigate the accident, also met with the families of the deceased, reports Haveeru. Education Minister Abdullah Nazeer assured the families that the recommended measures would be implemented.

The Education Ministry had not responded to inquiries at time of press.

Nashath Saeed of Meenaz/Gaaf Alif atoll Dhehvadhoo, Mariyam Naaz of Suvaasaage/Haa Alif atoll Hoarafushi, Aishath Shaaniha of Handhuvary Villa/Raa atoll Rasmaadhoo and Mariyam Shaiha of Maafannu Moisha and Principal Ali Nazim drowned during a Fisheries Science field trip to the campsite in Huraa.


President meets families and students at Hiriya following drowning deaths

President Mohamed Nasheed this morning met with the students and teachers at Hiriya School, following the drowning deaths last Friday of four of the school’s students and its principal.

The five drowned during a school fisheries science expedition to Huraa on the morning of Friday 9. None of the students could swim, and principal Ali Nazim drowned attempting to rescue them when they were caught in deep water.

Nasheed, who phoned each family personally following the incident – the country’s deadliest incident since the 2004 tsunami – met with the families individually today. Media was barred from the meetings.

Nasheed subsequently issued reassurances that cabinet had appointed a committee to determine emergency measures to prevent a repeat of the incident.