2 missing, dozens unaccounted for as Vietnam hydropower tunnel breaks

By VnExpress   September 13, 2016 | 07:12 pm PT
2 missing, dozens unaccounted for as Vietnam hydropower tunnel breaks
The collapse of a tunnel at the Song Bung 2 hydropower plant in Quang Nam Province causes severe floods in the lower areas. Photo by VnExpress
At least 2 construction workers have been swept away by the deadly currents.

At least two workers have been swept away and many are still unaccounted for after a dam tunnel at a hydropower project in the central province of Quang Nam collapsed Tuesday.

Authorities said the tunnel to the Song Bung 2 plant broke at around 5 p.m. after heavy rains from a recent depression triggered flooding, forcing a large of water down to the site at a devastating speed — around 13 million cubic meters or 560 cubic meters per second.

Huynh Khanh Toan, vice chairman of the province, said 18 people were working inside the tunnel at the time and at least two men, 24 and 36 years old, were swept away.

Search and rescue forces have not been able to contact the other 16. Dozens of locals working on nearby fields are still unaccounted for.

The tunnel was put in use in late August to bring water from a local river to the hydropower dam.

Ngo Viet Hai, general director of the state-run Power Generation Corporation 2, the investor of the project, said the 100-MW hydropower plant itself remains intact after the incident.

Work on the plant near the border with Laos started in 2012. Quang Nam currently has more than 40 hydropower plants in operation, the largest number of all cities and provinces in Vietnam.

In 2014, a tunnel under construction at a hydropower project in the Central Highlands’ Lam Dong Province also collapsed after heavy rains, trapping 12 workers for four days before rescue workers could reach them.

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