Altercation takes place between police and locals in Kuda Huvadhoo

Protests in Kuda Huvadhoo over airport facilities | Photo: Adhadhu

Kuda Huvadhoo, Maldives – Protests over an alleged case where a critically ill patient was refused to be airlifted to Malé from Kuda Huvadhoo for further treatment has evolved into physical altercations.

According to social media posts by local media outlets, physical altercations can be seen taking place between locals and geared police personnel. Locals are seen throwing sand from the ground at the police officers who attempt to control the crowd, as onlookers surrounded them.

It has come to light that the patient in question is the Assistant Manager of the utility company FENAKA’s Kuda Huvadhoo branch, who suffered a heart attack and required further treatment which was not available in the island. Islanders are said to have gotten upset and erupted into a protest near the airport after airport personnel allegedly refused to airlift the patient as an emergency case.

The main accusations pertaining to this case are at the airport, which was developed and is being operated by Manta Air – a local airline service. Local media have reported on behalf of Manta Air, stating that no requests were made to the airline to airlift a patient to Malé, but that an inquiry was made on how the procedure would be to do so.

As such, Manta denies refusal to airlift the patient and further details were reported saying that the ATR aircraft used by the airline does not facilitate the use of a stretcher but that wheel chairs can be accommodated, due to which they had kept a sea plane on standby in case the request came through. However, the patient was later airlifted via a Maldivian Airline flight.

Locals are also accusing Manta of denying access to the airport for other airlines, to which Manta is quoted to have said that even Manta flies to the airport after paying the mandated fees, and the same fees would apply to other airlines who intend to fly to the destination as well.

As of last night, protestors restricted movement out of Kuda Huvadhoo airport by digging the ground and mounting roofing sheets to block the pathway. However, passengers inbound to the island last night were allowed into the island, with the exception of a tourist, who was also later allowed entry, local reports read.

Further reports suggest that locals demand arrangements to be made that would facilitate easy airlifting of patients from the island, and that they claim to not cease protests until this demand is agreed to.