5 Tourists Have Drowned in the Maldives so far in January
Five tourists have drowned in the Maldives since Jan. 13 due to strong currents during the northeastern monsoon season. Local authorities have warned visitors to take "extra caution."
A 40-year-old Russian woman died Sunday while participating in a diving trip, although the exact location and conditions are not known at this time. Just one day prior, an 84-year-old Czech tourist drowned in the lagoon of the Paradise Resort Saturday afternoon, while a 66-year-old South Korean tourist drowned Wednesday while snorkeling at the same resort. And honeymooners Leomer Lagradilla and Erika Joyce, both from the Philippines, drowned while snorkeling at a resort in Dhiffushi Island. The young couple's bodies were brought back to the Philippines Saturday on Etihad flight 424.
In an unrelated incident Sunday, a Pakistani tourist was rescued after nearly drowning near Thulusdhoo Island in Kaafu Atoll. Local authorities said the man was rescued and treated at the island’s local health centers.
The tragedies have led the Maldives tourism ministry to launch inspections and review regulations across resorts in the nation. Meanwhile, local authorities will establish safe zones for swimming on every island. Maldives Tourism Minister Ali Waheed pledged to work with island councils to improve tourist safety, saying, “We have decided to inspect all tourist facilities in the Maldives within the next six to eight months. Regular monitoring must be done to ensure that regulations are followed.”
While the Maldives is a perennial favorite destination of vacationers around the world, water-related deaths do occur, particularly during monsoon season. Irish newlywed Andrew Roddy drowned in the same area in October 2017 while swimming with his new wife, Gillian Campion.
Experts advise using common sense and taking extra precautions when entering the water during monsoon season. The Red Cross suggests checking on the conditions of the currents before entering the water by keeping a close eye out for warning flags and confirming with lifeguards that water conditions are safe. Children and inexperienced or weaker swimmers should stay close to the shore and wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets in and around the water.
Rip currents can also affect anyone, including stronger and more experienced swimmers. The Red Cross suggests avoiding piers and jetties, where permanent rip currents often exist near the base of such structures. And swimmers who end up caught in a rip current should stay calm and avoid fighting the current, then swim parallel to the shore until they can escape the current and swim toward shore. If they can't make it back to shore, they should float or tread water until they are free, and begin waving or shouting for help.