A private ferry en route to Alif Dhaal Maamigili from Malé sank around 5:30am this morning with 81 people onboard, including tourists, women, and children.
All 81 people are accounted for and survived unharmed.
The stranded passengers and crew were rescued at sea by the coastguard and vessels from nearby resorts. The police said the people on board included 55 Maldivians, four Germans, two Indians, one Sri Lankan, and 19 Bangladeshis.
Some 11 children, including a one-month-old infant, and pregnant women were among the locals.
All the women and children were brought to Malé around 9:00am on a police speedboat. The 10 tourists were brought back on a coastguard vessel.
According to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), 65 people have now been brought back to Malé whilst 16 were taken to Maamigili on a coastguard vessel.
The ‘Sun’ ferry sank near the Vaagali picnic island in Malé atoll, the MNDF said, and a coastguard harbour craft and ship were dispatched to the area.
Alif Dhaalu atoll is southwest of the capital, about an hour and a half by speedboat.
Some 35 people were meanwhile taken to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Malé, including 12 children, 13 women, and 10 men. According to the government hospital, the condition of the passengers is not serious. Some were vomiting and others suffered from mild hypothermia.
None of the passengers had been admitted, but 15 are being kept for observation while the others have been released.
A passenger told The Maldives Independent upon arriving in Malé that the ferry sank after a large wave hit its bow. All the passengers put on life jackets and jumped overboard.
The dhoni (traditional Maldivian boat) was also reportedly loaded with timber, gas, and foodstuff.
Maamigili council president Junaid Ibrahim told The Maldives Independent that the ferry is owned and operated by four people from Maamigili. It carries passenger and cargo between Malé and three islands in Alif Dhaal atoll: Maamigili, Dhigurah, and Fenfushi.
Maamigili islanders were in a state of panic and anxiety in the morning as news of their loved ones remained unclear, he said.
The police have meanwhile thanked resorts in the region for assisting the rescue efforts, with a special mention to Fihaalolhi Resort. A boat from the nearby Rannaalhi Resort helped rescue the passengers and took them to the resort.
Speedboats from the Villa group were also used to transport the stranded passengers back to Malé.
The department of meteorology meanwhile issued a white alert around 11:45am today, warning that heavy rains with thunderstorms are expected in the central and southern atolls between 12:00pm and 6:00pm. Wind speeds could reach 40 miles per hour, the department said.
Photos from the police and MNDF.