World`s first underwater cabinet meet held in Maldives
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Last Updated: Saturday, October 17, 2009, 15:53
Colombo: Maldivian cabinet on Saturday met at the bottom of the sea, marking the first ever such meeting to be held underwater, which framed an SOS to global leaders to save their atoll nation from being submerged by the rising seas.

The SOS in the shape of a declaration was approved at the 25-minute cabinet meeting presided over by President Mohammad Nasheed.

The declaration will be presented at the Copenhagen meet on climate change in December, with Nasheed saying that Maldives was not the only country facing such a calamity.

"If it is Maldives today, you cannot save yourself tomorrow," the President of this picturesque group of coral islands said after surfacing from the meeting.

Nasheed and his cabinet colleagues scuba-dived to their underwater rendezvous and spent 45 minutes sitting across a number of tables immersed to the bottom of the sea, off the Girifushi island, about 35 nautical miles from capital Male.

The ministers dressed in scuba suits arrived by speed boats to the island and then dived to the cabinet meeting.

The declaration said global warming was sending the ice caps crashing into the sea leading to sharp rise in water levels and threats to the low-lying nations, the Presidential spokesperson told agency over phone from Male.

Nasheed and his colleagues used white boards and hand signals to communicate their decisions at the under-sea meet. All the ministers had undergone diving courses for the past two months to keep their underwater date.

The Maldivian ministers went to these extraordinary lengths as a UN panel on climate change had warned that even a rise of sea levels between 18 to 60 cm would submerge the islands by 2100.

Maldives comprises of more than 100 islands scattered over an area of 800 kms across the equator, and 90 per cent are just one metre above sea level.

While his ministers had to take diving lessons, Nasheed himself an experienced diver very confidentlt presided over the world's first underwater cabinet meeting, the spokesperson said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, October 17, 2009, 15:53

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