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Tsunami affected the entire Maldives population


“The tsunami affected the entire population of the Maldives, a third of them severely”, says the Chief Government Spokesman

The Chief Government Spokesman of the Maldives’ Government, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, today said that the tsunami that swept the tiny low-lying islands of the Maldives had affected the entire population of the nation of just over 300,000, and a third of them were affected severely.


Of the 199 inhabited islands in the archipelago, 14 islands were completely evacuated, 79 islands do not have safe drinking water, 26 islands have no electricity, 24 islands have no telephones and four island has no communications facility at all. Schools, clinics and pharmacies have been destroyed in some 50 islands.

In a media briefing that he gave this morning, Dr. Shaheed said that the confirmed death toll in the nation’s worst-ever disaster had risen to 82 and that a nationwide search was ongoing to find 26 persons still unaccounted for since last Sunday morning.

With communications having been established with all inhabited islands, and humanitarian relief having reached all 12,720 displaced people, the sheer scale of the disaster is now unfolding. While the death-toll had not risen to early estimates by the authorities – mainly due to the wave height on some islands in the north of the country not rising above 4-5 feet, the damage to infrastructure is estimated to run into billions of dollars.

Of the 199 inhabited islands in the archipelago, 14 islands were completely evacuated, 79 islands do not have safe drinking water, 26 islands have no electricity, 24 islands have no telephones and four island has no communications facility at all. Schools, clinics and pharmacies have been destroyed in some 50 islands.

“53 islands suffered severe damage, and 10% of the islands were totally destroyed. The tsunami had within a few minutes set the country back by at least two decade, as far as socioeconomic development is concerned.”, said Dr. Shaheed.

“The Government spent hundreds of millions over the past 20 years to build jetties, harbours and coastal structures. The tsunami has severely damaged these constructions. 19 of the country’s 87 luxury resorts have had to be shut down for massive renovation works lasting many months, and the tourist arrival figures have already halved in what would effectively have been the peak season,” he went on to say.

Many lost their lives and even more lost their livelihood. In some islands, there is not a single structure standing. We estimate that a quarter of the islands lost their entire fishing fleet, which was their only source of income. On the few islands that there was any agriculture, all crops were lost due to the excessive salination of the soil.

The National Disaster Management Centre informs that 44 schools, 30 health centres and 60 island administrative facilities need to be reconstructed or rehabilitated.

With survey and damage assessment teams traveling to all parts of the country, it is becoming increasingly clear that what was eight days ago the most prosperous nation in the South Asian region will face the highest per capita reconstruction cost. A conservative estimate going around in the media of 1.3 billion US dollars is still twice the country’s GDP. The Government is appealing for massive international assistance in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.


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