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Fire in Maldives’ capital Male claims lives of 9 migrant workers from India

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The fire brigade in Male, the capital of the Maldives, reported that a fire spread through crowded housing for foreign workers on November 10, killing at least 10 people and injuring many more. Maldives is primarily known as a posh vacation spot, and its capital Male is one of the world’s most densely-populated cities.

The High Commission of India in Male has issued a statement. “We are deeply saddened by the tragic fire incident in Malé which has caused loss of lives, including reportedly of Indian nationals,” it said on Twitter.

“We are in close contact with the Maldivian authorities. For any assistance, HCI can be reached on following numbers: +9607361452 ; +9607790701,” it added.

According to officials, 10 dead were found on the upper story of a structure that was completely destroyed by the fire, which started in a ground-floor auto repair shop. It took them nearly four hours to extinguish the fire, according to a fire department representative.

Nine Indians and a Bangladeshi national were among the deceased, according to a security officer. Political parties in the Maldives have criticised the working conditions for foreigners. They hail mainly from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka and are estimated to make up approximately half of Male’s 250,000 inhabitants.

The COVID-19 pandemic, in which the infection spread three times more quickly among immigrant workers than among natives, called attention to their subpar living conditions.

Because of the severe treatment given to foreign workers in the Maldives during the COVID-19 outbreak, many migrants were at risk of abuse – Human Rights Watch warned in 2020. The Maldives government should take immediate action to protect migrant workers by maintaining the right to peaceful assembly and putting a stop to long-standing abuses of labour laws, it added.

Employers routinely mistreat migrant employees in the Maldives, as per past report. Such practices include dishonest hiring practises, pay theft, passport confiscation, dangerous housing and working conditions and high workload expectations that are illegal and suggest forced labour.

(With agency inputs)

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