26/07/2018 14:05 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

131 missing after dam collapse: Lao Prime Minister

Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said on July 25 that 131 people are still missing after the Sepien-Senamnoi hydropower dam collapsed in southern Laos earlier this week.

The dam collapse has already affected 13 villages and is now affecting six others as the flood is still flowing, he said, noting that 587 families with 3,060 people have been made homeless.

The leader told a press conference on the day that all villagers stranded on roofs of submerged houses or on trees had been moved to safety.

Rescuers have also provided health check-ups, along with tents, clothes, food, water and medicine for the victims, he added.

According to the PM, the dam collapse is the first time Lao people have suffered such an impactful disaster in recent decades.

Heavy rains caused water to breach the dam of the under-construction Sepien-Senamnoi hydropower dam, triggering flash floods in several villages, he said.

At a meeting on July 25, the Lao government decided to set up a working group led by PM Thongloun Sisoulith and representatives from ministries and agencies.

The group will evaluate losses, trace the cause of the dam collapse and work with the main investor of the project to identify the responsibility of stakeholders in settling the incident, he said.

The Lao Government leader pledged that he will monitor the settlement, and used the occasion to thank foreign governments and people, as well as international organisations, for their sympathy and support.

He also called on Laos residents to monitor weather conditions and stand ready to prepare for all possible situations.

The Sepien-Senamnoi hydropower dam collapsed at 20:00 on July 23, releasing 5 billion cu.m of water which completely isolated Sanamxay district. Five out of Sanamxay district’s villages, namely May, Hinlath, Nhaythe Sanong Tay, Thasengchan and Thahin, have been fully submerged.

Being constructed by the Sepien-Senamnoi Power Company (PNPC), the 410 MW hydroelectric power project is located in the southern region of Laos, according to www.power-technology.com.

PNPC is a joint-venture formed in March 2012 by SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C), Korea Western Power (KOWEPO), Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding (RATCH) and Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE). SK E&C holds a 24 percent stake in PNPC, LHSE 26 percent and RATCH and KOWEPO equally split the remaining share in the project.

The project, which is estimated to cost 1.02 billion USD, is the first build-operate-transfer (BOT) project to be undertaken by Korean companies in Laos.

Construction of the project began in February 2013 and commercial operations were expected to begin this year.

On July 25, Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos Nguyen Ba Hung handed over about 2,200 USD to the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to support the victims.

The donation was contributed by the staff of the Vietnamese Embassy and its agencies in Laos.

Lao Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Baykham Khattiya said the donation demonstrates the solidarity between Vietnamese and Lao people to overcome difficulties.

Later the same day, representatives of the General Association of Vietnamese People in Laos and the Vietnamese Association in Vientiane also presented 50 million LAK (about 5,950 USD) to victims.

Cao Anh Son, General Director of Vietnam’s Star Telecom Company donated 300 million LAK (35,700) to help affected residents.

Also on July 25, the Thai government delivered 5 million THB (about 147,000 USD) grant aid via the Lao Ambassador to Thailand Seng Soukhathivong.

In addition to the money, the Thai government is also providing drinking water, food, medicine and tents for the flood victims in Attapeu province.

SK Engineering & Construction Co, which holds a 26 percent stake in the Sepien-Senamnoi hydropower plant project,said on July 25 that it will commit all available resources to respond to the flooding.

Earlier, RoK President Moon Jae-in dispatched an emergency relief team to help victims of the dam collapse.
VNA/VNP