Travelers are warned to take extra precautions.
The Maldives has issued a nationwide safety warning to resort officials alerting them to keep an especially watchful eye on their guests after an alarming amount of tourists drownings have occurred during the past month. The tidal currents have been stronger than usual due to the north-eastern monsoon.
Five tourists have died in January alone. Two Filipino newlyweds (a 29-year-old male and 30-year-old female) were swept away by an undertow current and drowned. Around the same time, two other tourists (an 84-year-old man from the Czech Republic and a 66-year-old man from South Korea) drowned within two days of each other. Additionally, a 40-year-old Russian tourist died while on a diving trip.
These deaths are unusual for the Maldives. In 2017, only 31 drownings occurred throughout the entire year. Although the islands are generally a very safe place to travel for tourists, the seas surrounding the islands are known to have extra-strong currents depending on the weather. The Maldives is an extremely popular tourist destination–it attracts around 1.4 million visitors yearly–and tourism revenue is imperative for the island nation’s economy. That said, tourists are warned to trust the guidance of locals on whether or not seas are safe to swim in.
Resorts across the 26 atolls are closely monitoring the situation and advising guests to be extra careful when doing watersports, swimming, and snorkeling, as these deaths are connected to swimming and diving activities. Tourism officials will be conducting reviews of the resorts to make sure that they meet operating standards and are safe for visitors, and there have also been talks of designating specific areas across the islands for safe swimming, says the Maldives Independent.
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For more tips on how to stay safe and prepare yourself for dangerous situations caused by rip currents, please visit the Red Cross.