Unexpected heavy rains caused the  Xepian Xe-Namnoy hydropower dam to collapse. (Source: Attapeu Today)

Seoul (VNA) - The Republic of Korea (RoK)’s SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C), one of the builders of the Xepian Xe-Namnoy hydropower dam of Laos, said on July 24 that it has formed a crisis management team to respond to the dam collapse.

SK E&C said its President Ahn Jae-hyun and senior company officials have left for Laos to figure out the scope of the damage caused by the flood, and to support rescue operations there.

The builder said huge amounts of water flooded over the Xepian-Xe Namnoy hydropower plant dam in Sanamxay district of Attapeu province in the southeast of the country.

An official from the company said the area had been hit by heavy rainfall three times greater than normal.

The company is supporting the Lao government's rescue operations by bringing in helicopters from Thailand to help rescue stranded people. Villagers in nearby areas have been evacuated, the company said, adding that the affected area is surrounded by dense forest where communication isn't easy, complicating rescue efforts.

Also on July 24, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Pcl of Thailand 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.

The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam collapsed 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, Nhaythe Sanong Tay, Thasengchan and Thahin, have been absolutely submerged.

The plant, which has a capacity of 410 MW, is being constructed by the Xe Pien-Xe Namnoy Power Company (PNPC). 

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

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

When the project is put into operation, 90 percent of the electricity generated will be sent to Thailand. The dam is 90 percent completed and operation is due to start in 2019.-VNA