Hundreds missing in Laos after collapse of dam under construction

Hundreds missing in Laos after collapse of dam under construction

Hundreds missing in Laos after collapse of dam under construction

A hydroelectric dam collapse in southeastern Laos unleashed a torrent of water that swept away homes and left hundreds missing, feared dead.

More than 6,600 people in the Sanamxay district are now homeless, according to state Lao News Agency. Many people were seen clinging to the roofs of their houses, surrounded by water.

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

Officials have brought boats to help evacuate people in San Sai district of Attapeu province in the southeast of the country as water levels rise after the dam collapsed, ABC Laos news reported on Tuesday.

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

Ninety percent of the energy from the dam was set to be sold to Thailand's electric company under a 27-year power purchase agreement, according to Power Technology news.

In particular, concerns have been raised about the impact on the Mekong River, its flora and fauna and the communities that depend on it for their livelihoods. It said the dam was at risk of collapse, and rain and strong winds predicted for the next few days could make the situation worse.

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Among the companies involved in the project according to the Laos News Agency are Thailand's Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, South Korea's Korea Western Power and the state-run Lao Holding State Enterprise.

He advised that the saddle dam's failure would unleash five billion tonnes of water into the Xe Pian River basin.

In a statement Tuesday, SK Engineering & Construction-a South Korean partner in the joint venture building the dam-said it was assisting in the rescue of stranded villagers.

Campaign group International Rivers told Reuters the accident exposed "major risks" associated with some dam designs that are "unable to cope with extreme weather conditions".

"This also shows the inadequacy of warning systems for the dam construction and operations".

"The warning appears to have to come very late and was ineffective in giving people advance notice to ensure their families' safety".

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