The Maldives Government has stepped in to fly a honeymooning British couple seriously injured in a bomb attack to a specialist burns unit after their insurance company refused to pay the bill.
Christian and Jennifer Donelan are expected to need skin grafts after they were burnt in the explosion on Saturday afternoon in a park in the Maldives capital, Male. Ten other tourists were also injured.
The Donelans’ friends and family spent much of yesterday trying to find someone to agree to pay for their medical evacuation for expert treatment. The Times understands that the Maldives Government last night agreed to provide the funds for the couple, who are both 32, after their insurance company refused to pay out.
“It has been eight hours of absolute panic,” a family friend, Tim Bulleyment, said last night. “We did not know the insurance company would say they’re not paying for it. Now there’s a resolution. Everyone is relieved.”
The bomb, filled with masonry nails, detonated at about 2.30pm local time. The other injured tourists, from China and Japan, have now been released from hospital.
Mr Donelan suffered 27 per cent burns to his lower body and limbs and his wife suffered 40 per cent burns to her face, hands and lower body.
Mr Donelan, originally from Rotherham, works in Qatar as a sports events organiser for the Asian Games. The couple were on honeymoon, having married in Italy two weeks ago.
The private hospital that is treating Mr and Mrs Donelan in Male, ADK Enterprise, is not equipped to deal with severe burns victims. The airlift is to be conducted by a private company and it is hoped that it will take place today.
It was unclear last night whether the couple would be flown to Britain, Qatar or to a specialist burns unit closer to the Maldives.
Friends and family in Qatar spent all day negotiating with the couple’s Qatar-based insurance company, as Mr Donelan’s father, Paddy, waited for news at his home in Rotherham.
The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka was sent to the Maldives and helped to manage negotiations.
Eventually, when it became clear that the insurance company would not pay, arguing that the couple’s insurance did not cover acts of terrorism, the Maldives Government stepped in, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office source said.
British insurance industry representatives said last night that about two thirds of British companies provided cover for terrorism-related incidents.
Malcom Taring, of the Association of British Insurers said: “It always used to be that war and terrorism were specifically excluded in insurance but in recent years with the proliferation of terrorism, cover has been incorporated into a lot of packages.
“About 60 per cent of British companies cover medical expenses and repatriation if you are injured as a result of a terrorist attack.”
Mr Bulleyment, 45, said: “Now the funds have been found to bring them home it’s just a major relief.
“It’s really nice of the Maldivians. Paddy has been calm. “At one point he just said to me, ‘Sit down son, take the weight off your feet. Stop pacing’. I think he’s just relieved that they are not dead. That’s what everybody feels.”
Ahmed Afaal, ADK’s managing director, said: “We hope that they will be going home within the next 24 hours.”
The Foreign Office said: “It’s great news.”
The Sunni Muslim country is stunned by the attack. The luxury resort relies on tourism and is not associated with violence.
The ADK hospital, which has been inundated with messages from residents in the Maldives, has set aside a room for flowers and cards for the Donelans from wellwishers.
Sultan Park, the scene of the bombing, is near a mosque and government army base and was packed with tourists. Within hours, Maldives police had arrested two local people. By last night seven people were under arrest.
But it remained unclear whether the target was tourism. The suspicion was that the bomb was the work of Islamic militants but the motive was a mystery.Source: Times Online