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.
“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.
entire island in on fire. pic.twitter.com/am569aodht
— Ahmed Jaisham (@jai_ahemd) January 2, 2019
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.
The cause of the incident is not yet known and it is too early to access the extent of damage however a full investigation will of course be launched soon.
— Gili Lankanfushi (@GiliLankanfushi) January 2, 2019
Thankfully no-one was injured and everyone is being taken care of at neighbouring resorts. The cause of the fire is still unknown but Gili Lankanfushi is working closely with the Maldives National Defence Force and a full investigation is now underway.
— Gili Lankanfushi (@GiliLankanfushi) January 3, 2019
Past guests of the island took to social media to send their love to the staff at Gili Lankanfushi.
1.3.19 | Sending my love and thoughts to @gili.lankanfushi -> my heart was so sad to hear about the fire last night and the damages that were done to this beautiful island we just visited last month. I’m so relieved that all of the amazing staff made it out okay and same with the travelers. I know Gili will rebuild this paradise and I can’t wait to come back and see it! #gililangkanfushi
A post shared by Maddie Devaux (@madeline_devaux) on Jan 3, 2019 at 5:59pm PST
So sad to hear about one of my all time fave hotels @gili.lankanfushi Glad all staff and guests are OK and hoping it’s not too long till you are open again. . . . . #luxuryhotels #themaldives #gililankanfushi #besthotelsintheworld #sea #hammocklife #robinsoncrusoe #travelexpert
A post shared by Lou Brooks (@louisehuntington) on Jan 3, 2019 at 2:19pm PST