police and military forces join the search work (Source: Xinhua/VNA)
Vientiane (VNA) - Laos authorities have been making every effort to search for missing people after the collapse of the Sepien-Senamnoi hydropower dam in Attapeu province’s Sanamxay district of Laos on July 23.

According to Bongsak, vice head of the battle office of the Attapeu’s Military Affairs Section, police and military forces and those from enterprises have been mobilised for the search.

On the ground, hundreds of rescuers from various forces have used canoes, boats and ships to scour 13 flooded areas.

In addition, search and rescue forces from Thailand and the Republic of Korea also used individual dinghies to search in narrow areas and forests.

Along with the search and rescue work on the ground, helicopters have been mobilised in the past two days to look for missing persons.
                                                                           
However, the search has encountered many difficulties as the affected area is very wide, the water level remains high and there is a lack of transport.

The Sepien-Senamnoi hydropower dam burst at 8:00pm on July 23, releasing 5 billion cubic metres of water which caused flash floods in 10 low-lying villages and completely isolated Sanamxay district. Five of Sanamxay district’s villages – namely May, Hinlath, NhaytheSanong Tay, Thasengchan, and Thahin – were entirely submerged.

At a press conference on July 25, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said 131 people were missing after the dam collapsed in Attapeu’s Sanamxay district. 

He also said 587 families with 3,060 people have been made homeless.

All villagers stranded on roofs of submerged houses or on trees have been moved to safe places. Rescuers have also provided health check-ups, along with tents, clothes, food, water and medicine for the victims.

Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung on July 26 handed over 200,000 USD in aid relief from the Vietnamese Government to Lao Ambassador to Vietnam Thongsavanh Phomvihane to help the country in the aftermath of the collapse.

Earlier on July 24 and 25, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, President Tran Dai Quang, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh all sent messages of sympathy to their Lao counterparts over the great human and property losses caused by the collapse of the dam.

After the incident, President of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Moon Jae-in has ordered robust measures, including sending an emergency relief team to Laos to help victims affected by the collapse.

The hydroelectric power project is being constructed by the Sepien-Senamnoi Power Company (PNPC), 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).
 
Construction of the project began in February 2013 and commercial operations were originally expected to begin this year.-VNA