Wednesday May 31, 2023

Laos dam collapse: Many feared dead as floods hit villages

July 25, 2018

LAOS: At least 20 people have been killed and more than 100 are missing in flooding following the collapse of an under-construction dam in south-east Laos, BBC News reported.

The collapse at the hydroelectric dam in Attapeu province late on Monday sent flash floods through six villages. More than 6,600 people have been made homeless, Lao News Agency reported.

Pictures showed villagers and young children stranded on the roofs of submerged houses.Attapeu is Lao’s southernmost province, and borders Cambodia and Vietnam.It is known for agriculture, rich trees and wood-based industries - and hydropower is one of its major exports

The dam that collapsed is part of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric power project, which involves Laotian, Thai and South Korean firms.The subsidiary dam, known as “Saddle Dam D”, was part of a network of two main dams and five subsidiary dams.

SK Engineering & Construction, a South Korean company with a stake in the project, said in a statement that “partial damage” was discovered at the dam on Sunday evening. Emergency repairs that night failed because of heavy rain and damaged road links, and by Monday there was further damage to the dam, and villages downstream were told to evacuate, it added.

Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, the main Thai stakeholder, said in a statement that the dam had collapsed on Monday after “continuous rainstorm[s]” caused a “high volume of water to flow into the project’s reservoir”.

As a result, the dam “was fractured” and water “leaked to the downstream area and down to Xe-Pian River” about 5km (three miles) away, it added

“Saddle Dam D” was 8m wide, 770m long and 16m high - and was designed to help divert water around a local reservoir, the company said. It added that the dam operator and related agencies had helped local residents evacuate to temporary shelter. Officials have been trying to rescue stranded villagers by boat.

Local authorities have appealed to government bodies and other communities to provide emergency aid such as clothing, food, drinking water and medicine.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has postponed government meetings and gone to the affected area in Sanamxay district to monitor relief efforts, state media says.One local Attapeu official told AFP news agency that there was no phone signal in the flooded areas, adding to communication problems.