Major fire destroys seven over-water villas at luxury Maldives resort Gili Lankanfushi
Holidaymakers have been evacuated from a luxury Maldives resort after a blaze ripped through parts of its eco-friendly property.
All guests and staff were accounted for and placed into alternative accommodation after the fire broke out at Gili Lankanfushi at around 11pm local time on Wednesday night.
Seven of the property’s over-water villas were destroyed in the blaze, as well as parts of the kitchen, restaurant and a jetty.
The Maldives National Defence Force said strong easterly winds allowed the fire to spread quickly through the thatch-roofed villas and across the private island in North Malé Atoll.
It is believed to have started in a stand-alone villa complex called the Crusoe Residence, where stays cost up to $5,000 a night.
Staff at the resort were reportedly alerted to the flames by a fishing vessel near the Lankanfushi island. Alongside emergency services, they managed to quell the blaze by 5am the next morning.
Hotel staff said the cause of the incident is not yet known but confirmed a full investigation would be launched.
“At 11pm this evening on 2nd January a fire broke out at Gili Lankanfushi. We are co-operating with the local authorities who have contained the fire and to minimise the damage,’ the resort tweeted.
“Thankfully all of our guests and hosts have been accounted for and are being evacuated from the island with alternative accommodation being arranged by Gili Lankanfushi.
“The cause of the incident is not yet known and it is too early to access [sic] the extent of damage however a full investigation will of course be launched soon.
“We will aim to provide a further update about the incident on social media as soon as we can.”
Following the incident, Maldives tourism minister Ali Waheed visited the island, which lies a 20-minute speedboat ride away from the capital city of Male.
Gili Lankanfushi, which boasts a total of 45 over-water villas, was ranked among the top five best hotels in the world by TripAdvisor in 2017, and as the number one hotel in Maldives.
In an official statement, general manager David Stepetic praised both staff and firefighters for helping to get the blaze under control.
He said: “I want to commend the bravery of our Gili staff for prioritising the wellbeing of our guests and calmly escorting them to safety as soon as the alarm was raised.
"And to express our deep gratitude to the firefighters from the Maldives National Defence Force who were able to contain the fire.”