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Major storm surges wreak havoc in central, southern Maldives

Ahmed Aiham
07 July 2020, MVT 19:17
Severe storm surges were witnessed across the country as Maldives' face unprecedented weather patterns as a result of climate change. PHOTO: VARIOUS SOURCES / SOCIAL MEDIA
Ahmed Aiham
07 July 2020, MVT 19:17

A number of islands located in the central and southern atolls have sustained damages over the past week, as a result of sudden tidal waves and stormy weather.

Earlier in the day, Maldives Meteorological Service (MET) issued a white alert over possible tidal wave surges across the region, between 1300 hrs and 1800hrs.

On Monday, the MET Office released a white alert spanning the entire Maldives over potential surges.

While severe monsoon rains are occurring over certain atolls across Maldives, considerable thunderstorms, as well as scattered rain and strong winds, are being experienced throughout the country.

Recently, several islands have reported incidences of severe flooding, including Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and Dhiffushi in Kaafu Atoll.

According to island councillors that spoke to local media Mihaaru, the storm surges are of "unprecedented" severity, in comparison to previous monsoonal weather patterns.

In certain islands, the tide was observed to have risen to heights of approximately 3 feet above sea level.

However, according to sources in Kaafu Atoll's Thulushdhoo and Alif Alif Atoll's Rasdhoo, although a number of residences were flooded, damage to personal property was prevented.

Collaborative efforts between authorities and island communities to pump and drain water out of the flooded areas are presently underway.

Tweet caption translates to "the situation in Dhiffushi today". Severe flooding seen on Dhiffushi, Kaafu Atoll. VIDEO: TWITTER

Dhiffushi Council member Ibrahim Mubassir stated that the flooding had contaminated the freshwater lens on the island. Maldives Transporting And Contracting Company (MTCC) has provided clean drinking water for the island's residents.

The planet's fluctuating climate and increasingly severe effects wrought to the island nation has been a frequent topic of discussion among leaders over the past year, although it is yet to translate into active policy.

On January 29, the parliament held an extraordinary emergency meeting, during which concerns regarding extreme weather conditions being experienced across the archipelago were highlighted.

On February 13, the Maldivian parliament passed a resolution to declare a climate emergency in a first-of-its-kind move for Maldivian history. This is one of the country's many exuberant gestures, and statements delivered with a flourish, asserting its position as a global climate advocate.

Recently, on June 4, researchers from Yale and Columbia Universities ranked Maldives in the 127th position on the global Environmental Performance Index (EPI), weighed against a total of 180 countries that were all assessed based on environmental health and vitality of their ecosystems.

According to the evaluation, the most immediate issue for the island nation to address is ‘Biodiversity and Habitat’ preservation - in which the island nation is ranked last, at 180. Per EPI data, the country has not managed to retain natural ecosystems and protect the full range of biodiversity within its borders, to a satisfactory level.

Despite the aforementioned actions and data, although the current administration maintains its pledge to stand at the forefront of tackling climate change and transition towards decentralized development, Maldives continues to invest in centralized and environmentally destructive projects.

These projects are widely touted by environmentalists as a major factor contributing to the degradation of Maldives' natural protection mechanisms, which in turn decreases the nation's capacity to handle a deteriorating climate, and subsequent changes to weather patterns.

Casting a wary eye to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the EPI's authors called on leaders to heed its timely reminder on the "profound interdependence of all nations and the importance of investing in resilience".

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