July 25, 2018
Hundreds of people are missing and at least two people dead after a dam collapse in Laos.
At least two people are confirmed dead as of 4:30 pm yesterday and a number of villagers are still missing in Laos’ southern Attapeu province after one of the dams at Xe Pian Xe Namnoy was crested causing flash flooding, a senior provincial official has said.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith yesterday cancelled the cabinet’s monthly meeting for July and flew to the province’s Sanamxay district to supervise the rescue operation.
Video clips and photos surfaced on social media showing flood-water levels up to ceiling height, forcing villagers and animals to seek shelter on rooftops.
“Villagers have sought shelter on their roofs, and some climbed up trees to escape the flood waters,” an official of the provincial rescue operation board said on condition of anonymity.
It was understood that the wall of a dam, which was under construction, was at risk of collapse causing the flooding, he said.
Helicopters, boats with officials and individuals from various sectors have been deployed for the rescue operation to search for the number of people still stranded or missing, district governor Mr Bounhome Phommasane told Vientiane Times.
Rescuers are battling with time as the flood level is poised to increase, the governor said, adding that the number of affected villages are likely to grow amid the rising waters.
Moderate and heavy rains with strong winds are forecasted for some areas in central and southern provinces in coming days, which could worsen the situation, the Meteorology and Hydrology Department warned.
The government yesterday issued an announcement declaring the flooded area an emergency disaster zone after being informed by Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Power Company (PNPC) about the accident.
The cabinet has entrusted the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in collaboration with the Ministry of National Defence and Attapeu provincial authorities to urgently appoint an Ad Hoc Committee in charge to mobilise aid and relief supplies from all sectors to help the disaster victims.