Maldives tourism bosses have cautioned holidaymakers in the tropical nation of the perils of drowning. A series of drownings have occurred across the island chain, claiming the lives of five tourists this month. Two of the five were a young couple on their honeymoon. Police are urging holidaymakers to take extra care when swimming, snorkelling or doing watersports following the fatal accidents in the past three weeks. This is a particularly perilous time of year as currents are strong during the north-eastern monsoon.
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Police have appealed for children and adults who cannot swim to not go into the water, local site Maldives Independent reported.
Officials are also trying to improve safety measures at tourist establishments.
Resorts are being encouraged to keep a close eye on their guests to prevent future tragedies.
Tourists who stay at guesthouses on local islands are particularly at risk as they are more likely to be unaccompanied when they go swimming or snorkelling.
The tourism industry is now set to launch inspections and review regulations. Designated safe swimming areas may be also be decided with island councils.
“We have decided to inspect all tourist facilities in the Maldives within the next six to eight months,” tourism minister Ali Waheed told reporters. “Regular monitoring must be done to ensure that regulations are followed.”
The most recent death came on Sunday when a 40-year-old Russian tourist died during a diving trip.
Further fatalities included an 84-year-old man from the Czech Republic who was staying at the Paradise Resort and a 66-year-old South Korean tourist at the same resort.
Around 1.4 million visit the Maldives every year – and the tourism industry is one the country relies upon. In 2017, just 31 people drowned.
According to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO): “Most visits to the Maldives are trouble-free.
“The most common problems faced by visiting British nationals are lost and stolen passports, and swimming and diving related accidents.”
The spate of drownings comes after a fire devastated luxury resort Gili Lankanfushi on one of the Maldives’ 26 atolls.
The blaze destroyed seven overwater villas and one restaurant, but no one was injured.
Last year a report warned that holiday islands such as the Maldives and Hawaii could be “uninhabitable in decades.”
This is due to rising sea levels risk damaging them and ruining freshwater provisions, forcing locals to flee their homes by 2030.
New research by US Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Hawaii has found that rising sea levels are already affecting the low-lying islands.