An “explosion” occurred aboard a Maldivian presidential speedboat Monday morning as President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim were returning to capital Male from the nearby airport island, haveeru.com reported.
President Yameen and his spouse were travelling to Male from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), which is located on the nearby island of Hulhule. They returned home Monday morning after concluding their visit to Saudi Arabia to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage.
Identities of the president’s entourage aboard the speedboat are yet unclear.
Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali, meanwhile, confirmed to Haveeru that the president was unharmed.
The president was due to speak to reporters at the presidential jetty in Male.
Haveeru’s Ahmed Hamdhoon, who was at the jetty with fellow journalists, reported seeing the door of the speedboat, named “Finifenma” (Dhivehi for rose), burst open while it was about to dock at the jetty. A loud explosion was also heard at the time, he said.
President Yameen was quickly transferred to an accompanying police speedboat and brought to Male.
Police quickly cordoned off the area and reporters were barred from the jetty.
Reporters at the scene, however, said individuals were rushed to the state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and privately managed ADK Hospital in an ambulance. The president’s security detail left the jetty along with the ambulance, suggesting that the president and the first lady were among those taken to the hospital.
The president and the first lady were taken to IGMH. Police had cordoned off the road leading to the hospital’s emergency entrance.
Mohamed Hussein Shareef, a minister at the President’s Office, told Haveeru the first lady, presidential secretary Fathimath Mohamed Solih and presidential bodyguard Abdu Nasir were the only victims. But all of them suffered minor injuries, he added.
“The president didn’t suffer any injuries,” Shareef said.
He later told state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) that the president, Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor and cabinet ministers were at IGMH. All the three victims suffered minor injuries, with the bodyguard sustaining the most serious injury, he said.
“The cause of the explosion is yet unknown. MNDF will comment on that after conducting a thorough investigation,” Shareef told the television station, adding that that first lady was undergoing tests at the hospital’s observation room.
A Haveeru reporter at the ADK Hospital said the injured presidential bodyguard was among those brought to the hospital for treatment. He was, however, later transferred to IGMH.
Videos shot following the explosion show the first lady lying down on a bench inside the speedboat. The president is seen leaning towards his injured spouse to help her, but his security detail quickly moved to transfer him to the accompanying police speedboat. The videos also show parliamentarian and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance’s (MDA) leader Ahmed Siyam Mohamed and fisheries minister Mohamed Shainee, who had accompanied the president and the first lady on their visit to Saudi Arabia, helping the first lady as she lay on the bench.