Officials said 10 bodies were recovered from the upper floor of a building destroyed in the fire, which originated from a ground-floor vehicle repair garage.

"We have found 10 bodies," a fire service official said, adding that it took them about four hours to put out the fire.

A security official said the dead included nine Indians and a Bangladesh national.

Maldivian political parties have criticised conditions for foreign workers.

They are thought to make up about half of Male's 250,000-strong population and are mostly from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Their poor living conditions were brought to light during the Covid-19 pandemic when the infection spread three times faster among foreign workers compared with locals.