Dam collapse in Laos: Sanamxay declared emergency disaster zone hinh anh 1Sanamxay district submerged after dam collapse (Source: xinhua)

Vientiane (VNA) - The Lao government on July 24 declared Sanamxay district in Attapeu province an emergency disaster zone after the collapse of the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam flooded the district.

The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam burst at 20:00 on July 23, releasing 5 billion cu.m of water which caused flash flooding in 10 villages in lower areas and completely isolated Sanamxay district. Five out of Sanamxay district’s villages, namely May, Hinlath, NhaytheSanong Tay, Thasengchan and Thahin, were entirely submerged.

According to local authorities, 18 bodies have been found while about 200 people are still missing. No Vietnamese casualties have been reported so far.

Head of the Secretariat of Laos’ National Disaster Management Committee Prasong Vongkhamchan said the committee is providing accommodation, food, clothes and medicine to the victims.

It has also worked with soldiers and police officers to move affected residents to safer areas and to search for missing people.

[Vietnam expresses sympathy with Laos over losses in dam collapse]

The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower plant is being constructed by the XePian-XeNamnoy Power Company (PNPC).

The PNPC is a joint venture between Republic of Korea’s SK E&C and Korea Western Power, Thailand’s Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and Lao Holding Sate Enterprise.

The project, estimated to cost 1.02 billion USD, is the first Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) one to be undertaken by Korean companies in Laos.

On July 24, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding issued a press release announcing that unexpected heavy rains caused the dam to collapse.

High volumes of rainwater fractured the dam and caused a deluge in the downstream area of Xe-Pian River, it said.-VNA