Hundreds missing in Laos after collapse of dam under construction

Larry Hoffman
July 24, 2018

The $1.02 billion hydropower dam is being built by the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Power Company (PNPC), a joint venture between South Korean, Thai and Lao firms.

"Several human lives claimed, and several hundreds of people missing", the report said.

Hundreds of people are missing and several believed dead after the collapse of a hydropower dam under construction in southeast Laos, according to state media.

More than 6,600 people have been made homeless by the floods, reports said.

The South Korean company that has a stake in the project said part of a small supply dam was washed away and the company was cooperating with the Laos government to help rescue villagers near the site.

Under the terms of construction, PNPC said it would operate and manage the power project for 27-years after commercial operations began.

Several dams are being built in Laos, which exports most of its hydropower energy to neighbouring countries such as Thailand.

The portion that collapsed has been described as a "saddle dam", which is an auxiliary dam used to hold water beyond what is held by the main dam.

Almost 24 hours after the dam's collapse local authorities said they were struggling to gauge the extent of the disaster.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith suspended the planned monthly meeting of the government and instead led his cabinet and other officials to the affected areas to monitor the situation and the rescue effort.

KPL said the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy project cost an estimated $1.02 billion.

Lao experienced one of its worst natural disasters in 2013 when five major monsoon storms hit in a period of three months, according to the ReliefWeb humanitarian information portal.

It planned to export 90 percent of electricity generated to neighboring Thailand, with the remaining amount to be offered up on the local grid.

The project consists of a series of dams over the Houay Makchanh, the Xe-Namnoy and the Xe-Pian rivers in Champasak Province.

Environmental groups have long voiced fears about hydropower ambitions in impoverished and landlocked Laos, with around 10 dams in operation, another 10 to 20 under construction and dozens more in the planning stages.

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