Maldives president not injured after speedboat explosion

Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom walks away unharmed after explosion in speedboat engine area

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Maldives President Yameen Abdul Gayoom escaped unhurt Monday from a blast on his speedboat as he returned home after preforming hajj in Saudi Arabia.

Minister Mohamed Shareef said the blast occurred Monday morning as the boat reached the main jetty in the capital of Male. Gayoom's wife Fathimath Ibrahim and an aide suffered minor injuries while a body guard sustained relatively serious injuries, he said.

Shareef said the cause of the blast, thought to have occurred in the engine room, was not known. Boating accidents and fires are common in the Indian Ocean archipelago state.

"We are not ruling out anything, whether it is an accident or an attempt on the president's life," Shareef said adding that investigators are inspecting the boat and watching video footages of the blast.

The country's international airport is on a separate island and a short boat trip is needed to reach the capital island.

Ahmed Hamdhoon, a local journalist who was on the jetty to cover Gayoom's arrival, said he heard a huge blast as soon as the boat docked.

"The right door of the boat fell on the jetty and there was heavy smoke. People were screaming," he said.

The Maldives, known for its luxurious island resorts, has been rocked by political infighting and disputed elections in recent years, but it is not known for serious political violence such as bomb attacks.