Villagers are evacuated after the Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noy hydro-power dam collapsed in Attapeu province, Laos. (Photo: KPL/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan has sent a message of condolences to her Lao counterpart Pany Yathotou over the collapse of the Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam in Attapeu, Laos on July 23.

“On the behalf of the National Assembly and people of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, I convey my heartfelt and deepest sympathies to you and the people of Laos, particularly the families of victims and those affected,” Ngan said in the message.

“I am confident that under the leadership and interest of the Party, State, and National Assembly of Laos, the fraternal Lao people will soon overcome the losses and surmount the aftermath of the incident,” she added.

The Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam burst at 8pm on July 23, discharging 5 billion cubic metres of water, causing flash floods in 10 low-lying villages and completely isolating Sanamxay district. Five of Sanamxay district’s villages – namely May, Hinlath, Nhaythe Sanong Tay, Thasengchan, and Thahin – were entirely submerged.

The disaster has left at least 18 dead, around 200 people still missing, and made over 1,300 families of 6,600 people homeless. No Vietnamese casualties have been reported so far.

The Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower plant is being constructed by the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Power Company (PNPC), a joint venture between the Republic of Korea’s SK E&C and Korea Western Power, Thailand’s Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, and Lao Holding State Enterprise.

The project, estimated to cost 1.02 billion USD, is the first build-operate-transfer (BOT) model to be undertaken by Korean companies in Laos. The dam is 90 percent completed and operation was due to start in 2019.

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