Vietnam assists Laos with dam collapse relief efforts

Remote villages in the Attapeu province, the southernmost part of Laos, are still submerged in muddy waters, paralyzing traffic around the area and obstructing rescue efforts. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has instructed the country’s disaster relief committee and the defense ministry to assist Laos in dealing with the aftermath of the disaster.

Acting on the PM’s instructions, the Ministry of National Defense directed Military Region 5 to assemble a group of over 100 officers with nine cars, VND450 million ($19,500) in relief goods like food and bottled water, as well as enough medicines and equipment to provide medical treatment for 500 people.

Upon arriving in Laos, army medics on Friday provided medical support for 200 people living in the affected area while Military Region 5’s officers joined their Lao peers in searching for missing people and directing traffic.

The National Committee for Disaster Response and Search and Rescue has requested 150 tents from the National Reserve to be sent to Attapeu Province to aid disaster victims.

The Central Highlands-based 3rd Corps has donated LAK10 million ($1,186) to Laos’s Attapeu Province, while authorities in the Central Highlands’ Kon Tum Province have given VND550 million in cash and VND200 million in relief goods to Attapeu Province.

According to official reports, flooding triggered by the collapse of a partially-constructed hydropower dam in Laos’s southeastern Attapeu Province on Monday night have so far killed 27 people, left 131 missing and more than 3,000 people stranded.

The collapsed dam is part of a hydropower project being built by the Vientiane-based Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Power Company, or PNPC, a joint venture between Laos, Thailand and South Korea formed in 2012.

Work on the $1.02 billion dam had started in February 2013 and was scheduled to be completed later this year.

The 410MW hydropower plant was to export 90 percent of its electricity output to Thailand, and send 10 percent to the national grid in Laos.

Laos dam tragedy toll still being counted