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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 December, 2004, 15:04 GMT
Maldives appeals for flooding aid
Maldives flooding
Maldives is a cluster of 1,192 tiny coral islands on the Equator
Ten people are reported to have died in the Maldives after flooding triggered by an earthquake struck south and east Asia, causing widespread devastation.

The low-lying islands, popular with tourists, are suffering damage to homes and tourists' resorts.

A state of emergency has been declared in the country, as waters flooded two-thirds of the capital Male.

Communications are disrupted across the islands. The country has appealed for international aid.

"The scale of the damage is such that we have decided to declare a state of emergency," Ahmed Shaheed, chief government spokesman, told Reuters from Male.

"Fatalities are feared to be 10, with around 30 injured," he added. "We are still unable to get through to some of the people stranded in the islands."

Over 4,000 British holidaymakers could be affected after flooding triggered by the earthquake.

One British holidaymaker died of a heart attack in a resort, Hassan Sobir, the Maldives High Commissioner in London, told BBC News.

Map of the Maldives
From 6am onwards tomorrow morning [Monday] the airport will be fully operational
Hassan Sobir, High Commissioner

"In a given year like this we would have over 100,000 British tourists coming to the Maldives and on a day like this we would have about 4,000 British tourists on the Maldives," he said.

He said communications had been disrupted and the airport could open fully early on Monday morning for flights.

"The airport was flooded as well, there was a lot of debris on the runway and it needed to be cleared," he said.

"Once the debris has been cleared, the airport is getting back to operational conditions - in fact, from 6am onwards tomorrow morning [Monday] the airport will be fully operational."

Mr Sobir added: "We have reports of warehouses where food stored has been damaged."

The country would be appealing for international assistance, once a task force had evaluated the extent of the damage.

"Information is very sketchy. Confirmed reports state that we have at the moment six deaths so the number of the fatalities is very low but the extent of the damage is quite extensive," he told Sky News.

Waves of about 4-5ft high had reached the islands, which do not measure more than 1.8 metres (6 feet) above sea level.

The islands - which are popular with wealthy holidaymakers - would evaluate the kind of help needed, but were initially requesting medical assistance.

Only the capital island, Male, and the airport island have a sea wall.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
A mother describes being almost washed out to sea



SEE ALSO:
Country profile: The Maldives
14 Aug 04 |  Country profiles


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