No information related to Vietnamese citizens was reported after  the collapse of the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam on July 23. (Photo: Agencies)

Vientiane (VNA) – No information related to Vietnamese citizens was reported after  the collapse of the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam in Attapeu province’s  Sanamxay district of Laos on July 23, according to the Vietnamese Embassy in Laos.  

The embassy said it is coordinating with local authorities to verify information related to 15 Vietnamese families, which are said to have been in the area affected by the collapse.

The embassy is also keeping a close watch on the incident and will conduct citizen protection if any overseas Vietnamese people have been involved, it said.

Representatives from the Vietnamese Consulate General in Pakse also travelled to Attapeu to update the information concerning Vietnamese expats there.

By the afternoon of July 25, local authorities had not officially released information on human and asset losses caused by the collapse.

The Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare canceled a press conference that was scheduled to be held at 10:30am on July 25 at its headquarters.

Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith is still in Attapeu to direct the search and rescue work.

The local authorities and search and rescue forces are actively searching for victims and supplying essential commodities for locals. 

The same day, President of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Moon Jae-in ordered robust measures including sending an emergency relief team to Laos to help victims affected by the collapse, according to the RoK Presidential Office’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

Details about measures to support Laos following the incident, including the size of the relief team will be confirmed at a press conference to be held later on July 25 with the participation of deputy ministers of relevant bodies.

The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy 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.

China’s Xinhua News Agency citied information from the Attapeu Provincial Administration Office as saying that the death toll from flash flood amounted to 19, while 49 others have been still missing.

Meanwhile, statistics from the Lao Prime Minister’s Office said 34 people have been still missing following the dam collapse, which also made over 1,300 families of 6,600 people homeless.

The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower plant was being constructed by the XePian-XeNamnoy Power Company (PNPC). 

The PNPC is a joint venture between Republic of Korea’s SK E&C and Korea Western Power, Thailand’s Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, and Laos’ Holding Sate 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. 

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.

Attapeu authorities had previously urged the Party, government, organisations, businesses, officials, police and military forces, and the public to provide emergency aid for the victims of the disaster, such as clothing, food items, drinking water, medicine, cash, and other relief items.-VNA