At least 10 people have been killed and several others injured when a fire swept through the cramped lodgings of foreign workers in the Maldives capital Male, the fire service said.
The capital of the archipelago best known as an upmarket holiday destination is one of the world’s most densely populated cities.
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Officials on Thursday said 10 bodies were recovered from the upper floor of a building destroyed in the fire, which originated from a ground-floor vehicle repair garage.
“We have found 10 bodies,” a fire service official said, adding that it took them about four hours to put out the fire.
A security official said the dead included nine Indians and a Bangladesh national, according to a report by the AFP news agency.
In a tweet, Maldives’ President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said an investigation into the “dangerous fire incident” has been ordered.
“Many people have lost their lives and a large number have been injured. The incident is currently being investigated. Condolences to the families of the deceased,” he wrote.
We are deeply saddened by the tragic fire incident in Malé which has caused loss of lives, including reportedly of Indian nationals.
We are in close contact with the Maldivian authorities.
For any assistance, HCI can be reached on following numbers:
+9607361452 ; +9607790701
— India in Maldives (@HCIMaldives) November 10, 2022
The High Commission of India in the Maldives said it was “deeply saddened by the tragic fire incident”.
“We are in close contact with the Maldivian authorities,” it tweeted.
Maldivian political parties have previously criticised the living conditions for foreign workers, who are thought to make up about half of Male’s 250,000-strong population and are mostly from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Their poor living conditions were brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic when the infection spread three times faster among foreign workers compared with locals.