Public outrage after two children suffer burns in fireworks display

Two children and an adult suffered burns during a government organized fireworks display at the Raalhugandu area in Malé last night, sparking public outrage.

Local media reported that a father, his child and another child were burned from falling gunpowder. The father and child were treated at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, while the other child was taken to the Senahiya military hospital for treatment.

Pictures of the burn victims circulated on social media last night, showing that all three of the injured suffered burns on the hands.

Only the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) is allowed to operate fireworks in the country, with all profit from the fireworks going to the military welfare company the Sifainge Corporative (SifCo).

Speaking to Minivan News , MNDF spokesperson Major Adnan Ahmed said the military operates fireworks with stringent safety precautions, and is investigating the incident from last night.

“We cordon off the area during fireworks. Spectators are only allowed to stay at 300 feet distance from the fireworks operating area,” said Adnan.

Adnan said the three who were injured last night were standing outside of the cordoned area when they got burned, but refused to comment further on the incident. Meanwhile, minister of defence Moosa Ali Jaleel expressed his condolences to the victims in a tweet last night.

However, several social media users have slammed the government over the mishap, with one questioning as to why the government was holding children’s day fireworks six days after the actual date.

Fireworks displays have become commonplace in the Maldives during the past year, with the government and ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) using such displays to celebrate “victories.”

Most recently, the PPM used fireworks on May 2 to celebrate the government’s “victory” over the May Day protesters the previous day.

Nearly 200 individuals were arrested at a mass anti-government rally on May 1, including opposition Maldivian Democratic Party chairperson Ali waheed, Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla and Jumhooree Party deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim.

The government also used a fireworks display to celebrate President Abdulla Yameen delivering his presidential address at the parliament, amidst protests from opposition MPs over the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed has since been sentenced for 13 years of imprisonment over terrorism chargers for the military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in 2012.


MNDF divers retrieve body of missing Korean tourist

Police have confirmed that the body of a Korean tourist reported missing yesterday (December 17) from Meedhuhparu resort in Raa Atoll has been discovered today in a joint operation conducted with staff at the property and a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) dive team.

Authorities have said that the body of the deceased, identified as 32 year-old Korean national Dohwan Oh, has been transported to Male’ and is now awaiting repatriation.

In a statement issued today, the Maldives Police Service has said that the deceased was discovered 20 metres underwater in the area where he was first reported missing following a snorkelling excursion with his wife.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef could not confirm when exactly the body would be repatriated at the time of press.

Tourist safety

Addressing the growing influx of tourists from Asian destinations coming to the Maldives, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Gafoor today pledged in local media to enforce stricter safety measures across the industry to try and cut down potential snorkelling incidents.

Adheeb stated that the industry must evolve and adapt to the changing market geared increasingly towards Asian visitors who were generally not as adept at swimming as tourists from more established markets.  According to the tourism minister, this evolution includes increasing ocean awareness for tourists while monitoring and strengthening existing regulations.

“If such incidents keep repeating it is a major concern. It will adversely affect our tourism. We need to change the services being provided with the market,” Adheeb told local media.

Missing Chinese national

Meanwhile, Police Spokesperson Haneef said today he was unable to comment over whether the case of another tourist who went missing from the Bandos Island Resort and Spa earlier this month – initially suspected to be a snorkelling incident – was presently being treated as a criminal investigation.

Immigration authorities confirmed Saturday (december 15) that a Chinese national allegedly linked to the disappearance of a tourist staying at a Maldives holiday resort had fled the country, defying a court-mandated travel ban issued Wednesday (December 12).

Local media had previously reported that the husband of Chinese tourist Song Yapin,who went missing from the Bandos Island Resort and Spa on December 6, had accused a fellow Chinese national staying at the property of murdering his wife.

Haneef said that as police investigations were ongoing into the incident, no details on the nature of its work could be given at present.

The MNDF confirmed on Saturday that the search to locate the missing Chinese national was continuing.  However, MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem said that the country’s coastguard had presently ceased sending out dive teams to explore local waters.

“We will not be calling off our operation until the person is found, but we will be amending our operation on a daily basis,” Colonel Raheem said at the time.


Civil Aviation Authority investigation under-way over capsized seaplane

The Maldives Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed that an investigation is presently taking place into an incident that saw a Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) seaplane capsized near to the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort yesterday.

CAA Chief Executive Hussain Jaleel told Minivan News today that no one had been injured in the incident, which had resulted in some structural damage.

“We are investigating the matter right now,” he said. “There are reports of some structural damage so we are required to do this, but there have been no injuries recorded.”

When questioned as to whether the incident may lead to a wider review of current seaplane procedures in the Maldives, Jaleel said that it was not possible to say without the report’s conclusion.

“Let’s see what the report finds first,” he added.

Citing an unidentified contact who claimed to be present on the resort at the time, newspaper Haveeru reported yesterday that the incident occurred after a propeller on the seaplane’s left side struck a platform. The collision was reported to have broken a pontoon and resulted in the aircraft then capsizing.


Fire triggered from Orchid house’s electricity meter board, says MNDF

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Fire department has said that investigation into the fatal fire in Orchid this week had revealed that the fire was sparked by a faulty electricity meter board in the house.

‘’The fire started from the meter board and spread, and turned to a huge fire,’’ said the MNDF in a statement, suggesting that the cause of the fire incident was electricity.

MNDF said that the fire department first received the information at 9:21am in the morning, and the fire department attended the area and tried to control the fire at 9:27 am.

At 9:57 that morning, MNDF said that “90 percent” of the fire was under control.

‘’While they were trying to control the fire firefighters received information that two persons were stuck inside , as soon as officers knew about it, a team from the fire department entered the house searching for the two persons,’’ MNDF said. ‘’When officers found the two persons they were inside a 15 ft-9 ft room build on a wooden deck which was severely damaged by fire when officers reached there.’’

MNDF said that officers had noticed that neither of the two persons were showing any movement when they were discovered and that their bodies had been severely burned by the fire.

There were three women and one man in the house when the incident occurred, two of them died while the third was a maid in the house who escaped on her own, said the MNDF.

The man received minor injuries during attempts to save the other two women, however after he escaped through the window to get someone to assist him to rescue to the two inside, the fire spread and he was unable to get back inside afterwards, according to the MNDF.

The identities of the two victims were identified as Iuthisham Adam and Dhon Sitthi of Haaji Edhuru, the mother of both Deputy Health Minister Fathimath Afiya and Permanent Representative of the Maldives to the UN in Geneva, Iruthisham Adam.