High tide hits Male city on Saturday, 5 August 2023. Dhauru Photo/Hussain Sunain

Surfers recount 'largest waves in 50 years', 'horror of tsunami'

Imthiyaz and other witnesses went back to the horror of December 26, 2004 tsunami.

6 August 2023

By Ahmed Mizyal

“The tide surges at times, but I’ve never seen them come up like this,” said Mohamed Imthiyaz, who is an experienced surfer. Meanwhile, the waves were still breaking on the sea wall at the Henveiru surf point (Raalhugandu) area in Male.

Imthiyaz is very familiar with the 'Varunulaa Raalhugandu' spot of the capital city. Previously, in the 1970s, Imthiyaz, who used to surf using wood boards and slabs, had never seen such a flood.

"The waves and the tide meet. If there are such huge waves during high tide, then it will swell like this”, he said.

Boduthakurufaanu Magu, the ring road of Male, was flooded up to the shin with the waves breaking over the seawall. The roads were covered with sand, stones and debris the waves brought in from the sea.

Imthiyaz and other witnesses went back to the horror of December 26, 2004 tsunami.

Maldives Bodyboarding Association President Abdullah Arif said he has been going to the surf point for a long time. High tide usually causes waves to swell over, but he said he had never seen the tide as it was on Saturday.

"For me, this day is most similar to the day the tsunami hit. I was right here on the day the tsunami hit," Arif said.

"That day, however, the waves were not breaking like this. The sea level rose, stones and sand came on the road, and the whole road was flooded. Today I felt like i saw the same thing again”.

Visit Maldives Pro 2023, the biggest bodyboarding tournament in Asia this year, has been cancelled due to floods in Henveiru on Saturday.

Arif said the waves caused heavy damage to the event and injured some of the people present.

"There has been a lot of damage to the event gear. Many people have been injured. Some photographers and their cameras and the equipment we have in the competition, sound and lighting equipment, have been damaged.," he said.

"The wave rose about 10 feet above the seawall. The interview backdrop was shattered”.

In addition to the surf point, the parking area between the carnival and Salman Mosque was also flooded.

The flooding had spread from Majeedhee Magu, up to Henveiru Stadium. Sandbags and slabs were placed in front of the doors of some places to prevent water from entering houses and shops.

The tides were not only affecting the city. The junction of the Sinamale Bridge and the highway was covered with stones and sand. The highway was flooded from Hulhumale to Male.

A video has gone viral, showing people being washed away with their vehicles near the traffic light after a sudden wave hit the highway.

Police have been working since noon to remove the large rocks that had been carried in by the waves from the sea. Police were also seen advising drivers to be careful as there was sand everywhere.

The meteorological service (MET) had forecast heavy waves three or four days ago, but the exact date and time of the waves was unknown. The MET has forecast similarly for Monday as well.