The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam collapsed at 20:00 on July 23, totally submerging five out of Sanamxay district’s villages, namely May, Hinlath, Nhaythe Sanong Tay, Thasengchan and Thahin. (Source: Attapeu Today)

Vientiane (VNA) – Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith suspended the planned monthly meeting of the government and led his cabinet members and other senior officials to Attapeu province’s Sanamxay district to direct rescue and relief efforts after the collapse of the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam.

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 disaster, which was supposed to be triggered by downpours in recent days, has left more than 100 people missing and over 1,300 families with 6,600 people homeless. Rescuers have recovered the bodies of 28 people and are continuing to look for the missing.

Rescue and relief efforts are facing a range of challenges due to difficult traffic conditions. The central committee for rescue and relief is working with Sekong and Attapeu provinces and Division 5 of the Lao army to deploy the rescue and relief campaign for victims.

Attapeu province’s authorities had previously urged the Party, government organizations, business community, officials, police and military forces and people of all strata to provide emergency aid for the victims of the disaster, such as clothing, food items, drinking water, medicines, cash and other relief items.

Being constructed by the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Power Company (PNPC), the 410 MW Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydroelectric power project is located in the southern region of Laos and is estimated to have an annual energy generation of approximately 1,860 GWh, according to www.power-technology.com.

PNPC is a joint-venture formed in March 2012 by SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C), Korea Western Power (KOWEPO), Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding (RATCH), and Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE). SK E&C holds a 24 percent stake in PNPC, LHSE 26 percent, and RATCH and KOWEPO equally own the remaining share in the project.

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

The feasibility study for the hydroelectric project was completed in November 2008. Construction of the project began in February 2013 and commercial operations are expected to begin in 2018.-VNA