China, India send water to Maldives to help with shortage crisis

Indian workers and air force personnel load emergency supplies of bottled water onto a Boeing C-17 heavy transport aircraft, bound for the Maldives after a fire at a desalination plant affected water supplies in Male, in New Delhi, on Dec 5, 2014. --
Indian workers and air force personnel load emergency supplies of bottled water onto a Boeing C-17 heavy transport aircraft, bound for the Maldives after a fire at a desalination plant affected water supplies in Male, in New Delhi, on Dec 5, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is sending a military vessel filled with water to the Maldives to help with a freshwater crisis on the Indian Ocean archipelago, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.

A fire at the sole water sewage treatment plant in the capital, Male, has left 100,000 people temporarily without safe drinking water from the tap. The Maldives has appealed for aid from India, Sri Lanka, the United States and China.

The Chinese vessel is carrying 960 tonnes of fresh water, the Defense Ministry said, according to Xinhua. The Foreign Ministry said 20 tonnes of bottled water were sent on two civilian flights on Saturday.

India is sending five planes with water and two ships with parts that can help fix the machinery at the plant, India said earlier.

The Maldives, a group of 1,190 coral islands south-west of India, is visited by more than 750,000 tourists a year. The country has a population of about 400,000 people, most of whom are Muslim.