The construction of Da Dang – Da Chomo Hydropower Plant in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong has been temporarily halted after a tunnel collapsed on December 16, trapping 12 workers inside for 81 hours.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai issued an order on December 25 requiring the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the provincial People's Committee and relevant agencies to find out why the tunnel collapsed.

The responsibilities of the designer, investor, contractor and supervisor of the tunnel must be clearly identified, he said, adding that the ministries and agencies must point out solutions to overcome the consequences of the collapse and issue requirements for the investor to meet before construction can continue.

Hai assigned the National Committee for Search and Rescue's Office to assess the rescue effort and draw lessons from it to increase the effectiveness of future activities, in addition to compiling a list of specialised equipment needed for such situations.

Minister of Construction Trinh Dinh Dung sent an official document on December 25 directing People's Committees throughout the country to inspect small and medium-sized hydropower plants currently under construction and send reports to the ministry before February 15.

The tunnel's collapse exposed serious shortcomings in management and ensuring labour safety when building such plants, according to Dung.

Work on the Da Dang-Da Chomo project in Lac Duong district kicked off in 2003. The 475 billion VND (22.6 million USD) plant, invested by the Civil Engineering Construction Corp. No. 5 (CIENCO 5), is designed to have a capacity of 22 MW.-VNA