Laos Hydropower Dam Collapses, Hundreds Missing

Laos Hydropower Dam Collapses, Hundreds Missing
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG

What you need to know

Hundreds are missing and several are presumed dead after a hydropower dam collapsed in southern Laos on Monday night. About 6,600 people have been displaced by flooding.

By Laignee Barron

Hundreds of people are missing and several are presumed dead after a hydropower dam collapsed in southeast Laos, state media reported.

The 410 MW project, which is under construction, collapsed around 8 p.m. local time on Monday, releasing 5 billion cubic meters of water, according to the Lao News Agency.

Several houses were reportedly swept away in the deluge, which prompted flash floods in several villages across Attapeu Province.

Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Villagers evacuate after the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam collapsed in Attapeu province, Laos. July 24, 2018

The news agency said the incident has claimed “several human lives” while “several hundreds of people” remain missing. An estimated 6,660 people were displaced by the floods.

Local authorities have called for urgent aid supplies, including clothing, medicine, cash and drinking water.

The US$1.02 billion hydropower dam is being built by the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Power Company (PNPC), a joint venture between South Korean, Thai and Lao firms.

The project began construction in 2013, and was expected to come online in 2018, exporting 90 percent of the electricity generated to Thailand, according to PNPC.

Environmental groups have long cautioned Laos over dozens of hydropower projects slated along the Mekong River, which could sever a major artery for the region.

Aiming to become the battery of Southeast Asia, Laos has laid out a hydropower development plan that includes 72 large projects, many of which target electricity exports rather than production for domestic usage.

Read Next: Hydropower in the Mekong: an Alternative Approach

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TNL Editor: Nick Aspinwall