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Laos dam collapse: Several dead, hundreds missing

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This screen grab shows an aerial view of the flooded plains in Attapeu province in Laos after a dam collapsed on July 23, 2018. Six villages were swept away, making 6,630 people homeless and hundreds are still missing. AFP

VIENTIANE (AFP) – An under-construction hydropower dam collapsed on Monday in Sanamxay district of Laos’ southeastern Attapeu Province, the provincial administration office said in a statement yesterday.

The Xe Pian Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam collapsed at 8 pm local time on Monday, releasing five billion cubic meters of waters, sweeping away several houses, claiming several human lives and leaving hundreds of people missing, said the statement.

The Attapeu Provincial Administration Office has announced relief aid for flood victims. Authorities of Attapeu Province also called on parties, government organisations, business community, officials, police and military forces and the Lao people to provide emergency aid for the victims.

According to the authorities, six villages were swept away, 1,370 households were affected, rendering 6,630 people homeless.

The US$1.2 billion dam is part of a project by Vientiane-based Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Power Company, or PNPC, a joint venture formed in 2012.

Work on the Xe Pian Xe Nam Noy dam started construction in 2013 in 238ha land leased for 32 years. Feasibility study was completed in 2008.

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.

The 410 megawatt capacity dam was supposed to start commercial operations by 2019, according to the venture’s website.

The project planned to export 90 per cent of its electricity to energy hungry Thailand and the remaining amount was to be offered up on the local grid. The remaining 10 percent of power would be sold to the local grid under an agreement between the PNPC and the Electricite du Laos.

Several dams are being built or are planned in Laos, an impoverished and landlocked communist country that exports most of its hydropower energy to neighbouring countries like Thailand.

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