One of the world’s most popular scuba diving destinations is nearly out of water.
The Maldives, a cluster of 1,190 coral islands southwest of India, is nearly out of drinking water after a fire disabled the nation’s lone sewage treatment plant. About 100,000 people in Malé, the capital, are expected to be on strict rations for at least another week while repairs are made. Because there are few natural sources of fresh water, the Maldives depends on treated seawater for its residents and tourists.
The only water currently available in Malé is stored in tanks and is being supplied only one hour every twelve hours. In some areas, panic has set in, resulting in residents attacking stores who were rationing bottled water.
In response, India has sent five transport planes of fresh water, and the Maldives is also seeking help from China, Sri Lanka, and the United States. Only people with a Maldivian identity card were eligible for the free water, and thousands of migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, Napal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were unable to receive help.
The Maldives is home to about 400,000 people and more than 750,000 tourists visit each year. About 30 percent of the Maldives’ gross domestic product comes from tourism, and scuba diving is the primary attraction.
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