A dinghy boat travelling from L. Kadhdhoo to L. Maamendhoo capsized last Friday. The passenger – 19-year-old Aminath Shima Nafiz - is missing, while the boat driver – Ibrahim Fazeel - managed to swim ashore to a nearby resort island.
A close friend of Fazeel’s, in an interview to ‘Sun’, has provided an account of how the situation unfolded, as told by Fazeel.
Shima, who works at a resort, had travelled from Male’ to Kadhdhoo on the early morning flight on Thursday. There were no ferry services available from Kadhdhoo to Maamendhoo on Friday, so she travelled from Kadhdhoo to Fonadhoo, from where she set out to Maamendhoo on a dinghy boat with Fazeel shortly before 5 pm.
Shima and Fazeel crossed the Vaadhoo Sea and were off the coast of Six Senses Laamu when they ran out of fuel.
Fazeel was refueling the tank when a wave crashed in, capsizing the dinghy.
“When it capsized. He grabbed the girl and put her on top of the capsized dinghy. The dinghy sank as he emptied the fuel tank and attempted to hand it to her. He emptied the tank, screwed the cap on it and handed it to her, but the current was too strong and she got swept away,” said the friend.
He noted that the area where the dinghy capsized was a strong current zone, even during good weather.
He said that according to Fazeel, though it had been sunset at the time, there was enough light to make out what was happening.
“He said the girl was holding on to the fuel tank when he lost sight of her,” said the friend.
Though he tried to rescue Shima, Fazeel, after he lost sight of Shima, swam to Six Senses Laamu.
Fighting the strong current, Fazeel reached the resort island approximately two hours later, at 9:30 pm.
Fazeel’s body was swollen to the huge extent by the time he reached the resort.
He borrowed a mobile phone from a staff at the resort, called the friend who spoke to ‘Sun’, and asked him to seek assistance from the MNDF to search and rescue Shima.
Fazeel is currently admitted at the Gan Hospital, but his condition is improving, reports the friend.
A coordinated aerial and maritime search and rescue operation has been launched by the MNDF’s Central Area Coastguard to find Shima.
The operation is aided by Maldives Police Service, Maamendhoo Council, residents of Maamendhoo as well as residents of nearby islands.