Laos dam death toll climbs to 27 as search efforts continue
July 26 2018 10:00 AM
A motor bike passes near a landslide area after the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam collapsed in Attapeu province, on Thursday.


The death toll following a dam collapse in south-eastern Laos climbed to 27 on Thursday, as search and rescue efforts continued for a third day, state media reported.
One more body was discovered early Thursday, in addition to 26 deaths confirmed by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in a TV broadcast late on Wednesday, according to Laos state media KPL.
Some 131 people were still missing and more than 3,000 people were homeless, KPL reported.
The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam, which was still under construction when it collapsed late on Monday, released up to 5 billion cubic metres of water in Attapeu province.
On Thursday, local rescuers were using helicopters and boats to bring people to safety. A total of 688 people were rescued in nearby Champasak province, according to local website ABC Laos News.
Support has poured in from other countries, including 100 rescuers from China who arrived on Wednesday, emergency supplies such as tents and blankets from Japan, and items such as drinking water and medicines from Thailand, reported Laos state media KPL.
Six villages, including more than 1,300 households comprising nearly 7,000 people, were flooded. Aerial photos circulating on social media showed vast areas submerged in high floodwaters that almost reached the people seeking refuge on the rooftops.
In Cambodia's Stung Treng province bordering Laos, river water levels passed the "alarming level" of 11.5 metres late on Wednesday, according to the Mekong River Commission (MRC)'s website.
By midday on Thursday, the levels passed 12 metres, a half metre shy of the official flood level.
More than 1,200 families and thousands of cattle in Stung Treng have been evacuated since Tuesday, Keo Vy, spokesman for Cambodia's disaster management agency, told dpa on Thursday.
There has not yet been a report on casualties or missing people in Cambodia.
The Lao economy in recent years has relied heavily on hydroelectric power sales, accounting for up to two-thirds of its total exports, according to the International Hydropower Association.
The country has a total of 46 hydroelectric dams, with 54 more planned and being constructed, according to Laos News Agency.
Two other dams in Laos burst their banks in the past two years, raising concerns over construction safety. Laos has sought to become the "battery of Asia" by 2020.

Last updated: July 26 2018 10:10 AM

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