Five people died on Thursday after a speedboat capsized near the northern island of Hanimadhoo in Haa Dhaal atoll.
The small vessel was travelling with 10 people from the nearby Nolhivaranfaru island when it turned over on the southern reef of Hanimadhoo around noon, Colonel Mohamed Saleem, principal director of the coastguard, told the press.
One man, three women and a child drowned, he confirmed. The five survivors are being treated at the Hanimadhoo Hospital.
Local media identified the victims as Hussain Abdulla, a long-serving teacher at the Nolhivaranfaru School, his wife Mariyam Manike, his daughter Guraisha and granddaughter Eeraa. According to Avas, the fifth victim was a woman named Aishath Ali, the wife of another teacher at the Nolhivaranfaru School.
The journey from Nolhivaranfaru to Hanimadhoo takes about 10 minutes. A yellow alert advising seafarers in the northern atolls to exercise caution was in effect from 8am to 2:30pm on Thursday.
None of the passengers were wearing lifejackets, according to Colonel Saleem. The size of the speedboat was about 23 feet, he noted. Coastguard vessels were dispatched to find the missing passengers after the incident was reported around 12:25pm.
The national carrier Maldivian airlines has since cancelled all flights to Hanimaadhoo due to bad weather. The meteorology department has warned of heavy rain and thunderstorms across the country.
Preparations were underway for the funerals at Hanimadhoo at the time of the publication.
As the nation mourned the tragedy, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, government officials and politicians offered condolences to the families of the deceased.
“It was with great sadness that I heard the news of five people being killed after a speedboat toppled over. I offer my sincere condolences to their families. May Allah grant paradise to the deceased and give courage to the families,” President Solih tweeted.
إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ
Deeply saddened about the untimely death of Nolhivaranfaru School 'Super Teacher' Hussain Abdulla and some family members in a tragic accident. A teacher lives in the hearts of those who studied under him or her.
— Aishath Ali (@aisthly) August 29, 2019
Deeply saddened by the tragic loss of 5 lives today due to the capsized dingy in HDh.Atoll. May Allah SWT bestow strength on the bereaved families to bear this loss.
In this difficult time, we wish to reassure the public of our full commitment to helping those in distress at sea.
— Chief of Defence Force MG.Abdulla Shamaal (@CDFofMNDF) August 29, 2019
Deeply shocked and saddened by news of the death of five people of one family including an infant in heavy seas near Hanimaadhoo today. May Allah bless their souls and give strength to the bereaved family! We must learn to take more care when travelling in stormy weather.
— Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) August 29, 2019