Maldives govt announces new election date
MALE: The Maldives said on Friday it has provided shelter and two weeks of emergency food aid to tens of thousands of its people affected by the Asian tsunami, but feared the disaster’s aftermath elsewhere could create fresh problems.
The government also announced a new date for parliamentary elections on the tiny island nation, which were postponed in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s quake-driven carnage. And it raised the death toll by four to 73, with 31 missing.
The Maldives relies on neighbouring Sri Lanka and India for supplies of vegetables and some other foodstuffs, and the devastation there has interrupted those shipments, said Riluwan Shareef, executive director at the finance ministry. “We’re already finding that we’re having trouble getting fresh vegetables,” he said.
The country’s many tourist resorts can turn to more expensive sources such as Dubai and Singapore - one resort imports vegetables and eggs from Germany - but for the mass of poorer, ordinary Maldivians, that’s impossible, he said. Defence Minister Ismail Shafeeu said authorities were concerned that large numbers of bodies and debris created by the tsunami could be blown toward the Maldives from Sri Lanka and India by the northeast monsoon. So far that hasn’t happened, he said.
Sri Lanka and India have confirmed more than 3,600 deaths combined, with thousands more missing. The total toll from the quake-driven tsunamis that swept southern Asia Sunday has surpassed 120,000. Maldivian officials also worry that because of the country’s small size - it has a population of just 280,000 - it could be neglected as the international community doles out disaster and reconstruction aid. ap