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Places | Tsunami in the Maldives

Tsunami in the Maldives

by Alex

This is about a lady called Shuwaiba and her experience with the tsunami. Shuwaiba works at an office at a boatyard on an island called Thilafushi, which is an island near Malé, the capital of the Maldives. I interviewed her and this is what I learned.

I first asked Shuwaiba what her experience was when the tsunami happened. She said that she was in a little speedboat in Malé with her friend and the captain waiting to go to work and for some other people to arrive. The speedboat was supposed to go to Thilafushi, but then the big wave came and they drove the boat behind a big freighter out at sea because it was not good to be close to land. To save the power systems the men on land cut the power so she could not communicate with her phone and that made her very scared. Shuwaiba didn’t even know it was a tsunami . She was lucky that it didn’t affect her very much but it was very scary.

Apparently there was no warning whatsoever and most of the people of the Maldives didn’t even know what a tsunami is. She really thinks that people should have been told and then been warned. When she first found out she was scared and had no way of communicating with anybody to find out what was going on. Not knowing what was coming next or what was going on I would have been scared too.

After the tsunami she helped as a volunteer in Malé by packing clothes and food and other stuff until 2 o’clock at night and the next day. Islands all over the Maldives where the poor people live had their houses swept away and some even lost their families. About 87 people died and about 50 could not be found. Since the tsunami a small group of people have started a charity called Friends of Maldives. They transport all sorts of things to the people who have suffered badly from the tsunami. Shuwaiba says that it already has taken 4 months of rebuilding and will probably take another 6 months to finish.

The yard also had some damage. The walls had some cracks and the tsunami also took away some bricks and caused the wooden jetty to rot. It flooded some parts of the yard and a few people started wearing life jackets because they could not swim and they did not know how far up the tide would go. The tide went up and down quite a lot of times and she said it was surprising and scary how much it went up and down.

Shuwaiba’s personal opinion is that Maldivian people should have been warned and told what a tsunami is. Then they would have had a chance to prepare. She also says that people in the islands who try to survive by fishing are still suffering badly and their children are also getting psychological fears. She also saidthat all the foreigners know Maldives as a fancy place with good diving and turquoise blue waters. But Maldives has its problems.

I find it interesting to know how the Maldives has been affected, and how the people are coping with the effects of the tsunami. I liked learning and talking with Shuwaiba.

 

Tsunami effects

100,000 people were severely affected, that is one third of the population. There are about 200 inhabited islands and 53 of them got badly damaged. 14 of these inhabited islands had to be evacuated. 20 islands were completely destroyed. 37 percent of the schools have been damaged, so now 225 of the remaining schools have an increased number of pupils.

 

 
© JIOQ 2004, 2005
 


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