Eight Indians were among 10 people who died early Thursday when a garage fire broke out under a cramped living quarters here in the Maldivian capital, an Indian High Commission official said.
A fire broke out in the M. Nirufehi area near Mawayo Masjid at around 12.30 am.
“Ten people have been confirmed dead, of whom eight are Indian nationals. We are yet to ascertain the nationality of the other two victims,” said Ramdhir Singh, welfare officer working at the Indian High Commission here.
The Indian High Commission in a tweet said that the Maldivian authorities have confirmed the death of 10 people in the unfortunate incident. The process of identification of the deceased is on.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic fire incident in Male which has resulted in loss of life and property,” it said, adding that the mission is in close contact with local authorities.
It said that the High Commission is reaching out to the families of the affected Indian nationals.
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“For any assistance, HCI can be contacted on the following numbers: +9607361452; +9607790701,” the mission said.
Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said he was “deeply saddened” by the tragic news of a fire in Male that claimed the lives of 10 migrant workers and affected many families.
“Our condolences and prayers are with the families of the deceased and those affected. Full investigation is underway,” he said.
The garage is located on the ground floor of the building, while the first floor housed migrant workers. According to news portal SunOnline International, the living quarters had only one window.
The Maldives National Defense Force said 38 migrant workers from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka were living in the building, with a gas cylinder next to each bed.
Maldivian National Disaster Authority (MNDA) chief Hissan Hassan said 28 people had been rescued from the building.
He said 19 of them were taken over by their employers while nine are under the supervision of the MNDA – six women and three men.
Colonel Ibrahim Rashid, commandant of the MNDF Fire and Rescue Service, said the garage was the scene of a previous fire – which resulted from negligence while working with the gas cutter.
He said gas cylinders were kept next to the beds inside the migrant quarters.
“Therefore, (we have been informed) gas cylinders were placed practically next to each bed,” he was quoted as saying by SunOnline.
“There were a lot of gas cylinders. Different types of gas. The garage was located on the ground floor. So we found it very challenging to fight the fire.”
The fire was brought under control at 4:34 am, he said.
Ibrahim said the bodies recovered from the spot were severely burnt, which made it difficult to identify them or even determine their gender.
Foreign workers make up nearly half of Male’s 250,000-strong population, mostly from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
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