Geographically, the airport island is northeast of the capital city island, Male. The airport was closed for traffic Sunday, Dec 26 due to the wave that swept over the airport island. There was debris and rubble strewn over the international runway making it unusable. The airport island took the brunt of the destruction that would have otherwise damaged the capital city of Male quite severely.
At 8 am local time, Monday, Dec 27 two Air Sri Lanka jets had already arrived. We expect that the airport will soon have other flights coming and going, in the effort to return travelers to their points of origin.
The main airport terminal is full of people. There was no panic among the travelers awaiting to leave. In fact, some are sunbathing before their departure flight.
We expect tourists will simply return home. Some travelers will have already been delayed in their return, due to the tidal wave and the resulting airport closure. Others whose plans would have been to vacation here in this tropical paradise destination for a week or so will simply return home as soon as possible if their resort island sustained damage.
There are two regional airlines with seaplanes that transport tourists from the international airport to their resort destinations on 19 passenger Twin Otter floatplanes. Floatplanes are already picking up tourists from resort areas. Domestic terminal furniture, fixtures and equipment have been swept onto the international runway, some 100 yards away. The litter and debris strung across the terminal area will make it inconvenient for passengers to make their way through.
Emergency flights only were conducted Sunday, Dec 26.
Airport fuel is now available at the dock for the floatplanes. Jet fuel service was virtually uninterrupted, but the jets couldn t land.
One desalination plant is in shreds, making fresh water currently unavailable in some locations. We think, but are unsure, that fresh water is still available at the international airport.
The wave picked up and floated seacans 200 or 300 feet, and outbuildings are in shreds, but concrete buildings have not been significantly damaged. Some reports have been received regarding minor floatplane damage.
One resident of the airport island described his home as having contained chest deep water. On the first floor, furniture was swept away. The water came and went immediately in a wave action, and was not sustained. One man caught in the swell was chest deep in the water. Here in the Maldives, we only received one wave, as compared to the two or three that hit Sri Lanka.
Due to the situation on the airport island, we are expecting to hear of serious damage to some resorts, but probably not much loss of life, as is borne out in the newscasts we have been reading. Rumour is that on Dec 26, some resorts were already planning the fresh arrival of tourists, being completely undamaged.. However, others would be completely washed away. The location of the resort in the atoll ring is what determines the extent of the damage. Conjecture would be that anything washed away, would be washed into the lagoon. People caught in this should have had a good chance to swim back to shore.
The atmosphere of the people in Male is calm. People are talking excitedly, but there is a distinct lack of panic or fear. Teashops are still full of people, shops are open for business, the dockside shops and warehouses are being mopped up and cleared out of water logged merchanidise. However, on Monday, Dec 27 there was no fish at the usually bustling fish market. Fish was being sold on Sunday, Dec 26.
People are coming in from villages. One mans observation and conclusions was that the wave had engulfed a number of the local village islands, and these people are arriving in Male. Large boatloads of people are arriving dockside in Male.
We have not received any reports of injury to family members of friends and coworkers.
My sister is in Colombo, Sri Lanka . This capital city is on the central west coast of the island, We understand that the hardest hit location in Sri Lanka was on the north east coast, and so they have probably not been immediately affected by the wave.
Written by Kim, with information from Drew
Who has returned home with a taxi load of aircraft spare parts. He is using our deck pool to wash off salt and sand from electronic parts. There was no water available at his work.