The Maldives, a nation composed of more than 1000 islands in the Indian Ocean, has declared a state of emergency following a major fire at the only water sewage treatment plant on the main island. The shutdown of the plant has led to a growing shortage of drinking water.
The desperate island nation has requested aid from India, Sri Lanka, the U.S. and China. Nearly 100,000 people in the capital of Male do not have safe water to drink from the tap, according to a statement from Mohamed Shareef, a Maldivian government minister.
Statement from the Indian Foreign Ministry
“Last night, the Maldives foreign minister contacted us saying they were facing a grave emergency,” Syed Akbaruddin, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman, said. “For the next seven to eight days they are going to face extreme difficulty with water so they requested all assistance.”
Of note, India is responding to the request by sending five planes with water as well as two ships with parts to help with repairs of the machinery at the sewage treatment plant, according to Akbaruddin. One plane carrying water had already arrived in Male by Friday afternoon.
The Maldivian Red Crescent also announced that it has 24 staff and 60 volunteers on the ground in Male to distribute the water.
More on Maldives
The Maldives, a group of 1,190 coral islands southwest of India, is visited by more than 750,000 tourists each year. The island nation has a population of more than 400,000 people, most of whom are Muslim. The main island and capital, Male, is located nearly 370 miles south-west of India and 470 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. As a very low-lying island nation Maldives (average ground elevation of 1.5 meters above sea level) is at extreme risk of flooding or inundation if global ocean levels rise due to global warming. Not surprisingly, Maldives has committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2019.