'We were terrified': Guests flee as luxury over-water resort goes up in flames

·News Reporter

An inferno has ripped through a series of luxurious over-water villas at a Maldives resort, sending holidaymakers fleeing for their lives.

Gili Lankanfushi, a secluded resort on the island in North Malé atoll which was last year included TripAdvisor’s top five hotels in the world, erupted into flames at around 11pm on Wednesday night.

Panicked guests, some of whom had paid upwards of $5000 per night, had no time to gather their possessions as the flames engulfed the thatch-roofed villas.

Marta Otaduy and her partner said they could only clutch onto their two-year-old son as they watched the villas burn to the ground.

Firefighters eventually contained the blaze some six hours later. Images: Instagram/alixavadh
Firefighters eventually contained the blaze some six hours later. Images: Instagram/alixavadh
Guests were told to wait in the corner of the beach as the flames took hold of the resort. Image: Instagram/alixavadh
Guests were told to wait in the corner of the beach as the flames took hold of the resort. Image: Instagram/alixavadh

“We were woken up at midnight and rushed out of out villas as the fire consumed part of the resort and many villas,” Ms Otaduy said.

“There was fire on the palms that fell on the beach. We were terrified.

“We held tight to our 2 year old as they handed us life saving vests and masks.”

Accessible only via speed boat, the Italian yoga instructor said her family and other guests sought shelter in the corner of the beach as they waited for help to arrive.

The luxurious water villas across the island in North Malé atoll went before the fire. Image: Instagram/emmamackleyprivatetravel
The luxurious water villas across the island in North Malé atoll went before the fire. Image: Instagram/emmamackleyprivatetravel
Only the walkways remained once the fire was extinguished. Image: Twitter/IsmailShaukath
Only the walkways remained once the fire was extinguished. Image: Twitter/IsmailShaukath

London model and fashion blogger Lucy Williams was only able to grab her passports and essential items before watching on as the waterfront oasis where she had been sleeping just moments earlier was devoured by the flames.

Gili Lankanfushi staff, who were praised for their composure during the panic, confirmed on their Twitter account that all guests had been accounted for with no injuries.

Fire and rescue officers eventually arrived and contained the blaze by 5am the following morning.

The cause of the blaze still remains unclear, however the resort confirmed that a thorough investigation is now underway.

Past guests of the island took to social media to send their love to the staff at Gili Lankanfushi.

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