Hundreds missing after dam collapses in Laos

Hundreds missing after dam collapses in Laos

Hundreds missing after dam collapses in Laos

Hundreds of people are missing and an unknown number dead after a dam collapsed in south-east Laos, state media reported.

The Lao News Agency said the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam collapsed at 8 p.m. on Monday night, triggering the catastrophic release of 5 billion cubic meters of water.

The 410 megawatt capacity dam was meant to begin commercial operations by 2019, according to the venture's website.

The portion that collapsed has been described as a "saddle dam", which is an auxiliary dam used to hold water beyond what is held by the main dam.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith suspended a monthly government meeting to visit the stricken region and review evacuation and relief efforts along with members of his cabinet, state news agency KPL reports.

Scenes of flooding following a burst dam in southern Laos that is believe to have claimed the lives of as many as 100 people.

The project reportedly cost $1.3 billion.

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Boats are said to have been brought in to help evacuate people as water levels continue to rise, according to ABC Laos news.

Ltd. (KOWEPO), Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Pcl, Thailand's largest private power producer, and Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE).

It planned to export 90% of its electricity to energy hungry Thailand and the remaining amount was to be offered up on the local grid.

Pianporn Deetes of the conservation group International Rivers said there were major risks with dams that are not created to cope with extreme weather conditions such as very heavy rain.

Laos is supposed to receive taxes, royalties and other income estimated at $33 billion per year from the dam. It is not yet known how many people have died in the disaster. SK E&C did not respond to several calls seeking comment.

Last September, a dam in the northeastern province of Xieng Khouang burst, damaging infrastructure, farmland and water supplies but causing no reported casualties.

Environmental groups have long voiced fears about impoverished and landlocked Laos' hydropower ambitions, with several dams either already being built or in the pipeline.

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