Lives thrown into disarray, Lao citizens struggle to cope

By Thanh Nguyen, Quoc Thang   July 28, 2018 | 01:52 pm GMT+7

Several days after a hydropower dam collapsed in southeastern Laos, hundreds of villagers are struggling with its aftermath.

The flash floods unleashed by the collapse of the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam have so far killed 27 people, left 131 missing and more than 3,000 people stranded. These are official figures released till date. The actual toll could be much higher. 

Khok Kong Village, around 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the collapsed hydropower dam, lost several houses, rendering hundreds residents homeless. They have been evacuated to a nearby school.  

Khok Kong Village, around 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the collapsed hydropower dam, lost several houses, rendering hundreds residents homeless. They have been evacuated to a nearby school. 

Remote villages in the Attapeu province, the southernmost part of Laos, are still submerged in muddy waters, paralyzing traffic around the area and obstructing rescue efforts.

Remote villages in the Attapeu province, the southernmost part of Laos, are still submerged in muddy waters, paralyzing traffic around the area and obstructing rescue efforts.

A little girl walks in the rain with a mat she picked up when water levels receded on Thursday.

A little girl walks in the rain with a mat she picked up when water levels receded on Thursday.

Two women take their belongings and move to a shelter. According to Laos officials, the dam collapse had affected the lives of 6,000 people in six villages, with more than 3,000 residents losing their homes. 

Two women take their belongings and move to a shelter. According to Laos officials, the dam collapse had affected the lives of 6,000 people in six villages, with more than 3,000 residents losing their homes. 

A couple wade through a street with their children. Many households have to move to safe shelters for fear of heavy rain and disease epidemics.

A couple wade through a street with their children. Many households have to move to safe shelters for fear of heavy rain and disease epidemics.

Soldiers and rescue teams take a break in the afternoon. Weather stations in Laos have predicted heavy rain and gusty winds in the coming days. Therefore, rescue forces are racing against time to look for those still missing.

Soldiers and rescue teams take a break in the afternoon. 

Weather stations in Laos have predicted heavy rain and gusty winds in the coming days. Therefore, rescue forces are racing against time to look for those still missing.

Thousands of residents have been evacuated to schools in the downtown district to flee away. Each room is able to accommodate around 50 to 60 people and the affected residents are living together in the big family. 

Thousands of residents have been evacuated to schools in the downtown district to flee away. Each room is able to accommodate around 50 to 60 people and the affected residents are living together in the “big family.” 

The affected residents have been given relief packages, including clothes and noodles.

The affected residents have been given relief packages, including clothes and noodles.

At night, while some kids and adults sleep, others stay awake in the corridor. 

At night, while some kids and adults sleep, others stay awake in the corridor. 

A medical team from the University Medical Center of the Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) group rushed to the site to provide medical care for victims. The unhygienic living conditions increase the risk of epidemics breaking out, said Nguyen Thanh Cong (1st, L), deputy director of the center and head of the rescue team.

A medical team from the University Medical Center of the Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) group rushed to the site to provide medical care for victims. The unhygienic living conditions increase the risk of epidemics breaking out, said Nguyen Thanh Cong (1st, L), deputy director of the center and head of the rescue team.

As of Thursday, there has been no report of Vietnamese casualties and no Vietnamese is listed among the missing people. 15 Vietnamese families living in the affected area have all been evacuated to safety, and a group of 26 Vietnamese stranded in a plantation in the area were rescued by helicopter on Wednesday.

Vietnam’s agriculture officials have warned that water levels in the border province of An Giang to rise seven to 10 centimeters this weekend.

The dam is part of a hydropower project being built by the Vientiane-based Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Power Company, or PNPC, a joint venture between Laos, Thailand and South Korea formed in 2012.

Work on the $1.02 billion dam had started in February 2013 and was scheduled to be completed later this year.

The 410MW hydropower plant was to export 90 percent of its electricity output to Thailand, and send 10 percent to the national grid in Laos.

Photos taken by Thanh Nguyen from Attapeu province in Laos

 
 
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