China donates $500,000 to restore water to Maldives

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Male, Dec 8: The Chinese government donated $500,000 to the Maldives government to speed up the repairs of a desalination plant and restore water to the capital, an official said here.

The donation was offered on Sunday after the Maldives government announced an estimated $20 million would be required to repair the plant that was damaged in a fire on Thursday resulting in the capital's population of 130,000 being without water for four days, Xinhua reported.

"The Chinese government has already come forward with a $500,000 donation. Discussions are ongoing with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and other Arab governments. We hope to get monetary aid from them," Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim told reporters.

The appeals are being made through the Foreign Ministry. Private donors have also chipped in with an anonymous $1 million also coming in from a Saudi businessman.

Water services to the capital Male were shut off Thursday after a crippling fire damaged crucial components of the island's sole desalination facility the Male Water and Sewerages Company (MWSC) leaving thousands of people without water for bathing, cleaning, and cooking.

Authorities have acknowledged that damage to the capital's desalination plant is extensive, and could take between three days and a week to fully repair.

Large numbers of homes, hotels, shops and restaurants are either still without water or have access only at ground level resulting in long lines forming at water distribution centres.

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen on Saturday cut short a personal trip to Malaysia where his son is reported to be receiving medical treatment to deal with the crisis.

water to Maldives

Fresh supplies of water continue to arrive from abroad most notably from China and India, with distribution being carried out by the Maldives National Defence Force with the assistance of local non-governmental organisations alongside numerous private businesses.

The Chinese government has arranged for all commercial flights out of China to Male to be loaded with drinking water. The first batch arrived on Saturday morning carrying 15 tonnes of bottled water.

The Maldives government has set up water distribution centres at schools and other public spaces, with each person allowed two 1.5 litre bottles.

IANS

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