Vietnam offers to help Laos after dam collapse disaster

By Long Hai   July 24, 2018 | 08:53 am PT
Vietnam offers to help Laos after dam collapse disaster
Villagers evacuate after the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam collapsed in Attapeu province, Laos, July 24, 2018. Photo by ABC Laos News/Handout via Reuters
Vietnamese leaders have offered assistance to Laos after a partly-constructed hydropower dam collapsed leaving at least 70 dead and hundreds missing.

The accident, which happened on Monday night at a hydropower dam in southeastern Attapeu Province's Sanamxay District, unleashed flash floods on nearby villages.

The floodings have reportedly killed at least 70 people, while over 200 are still listed as missing and over 6,600 people have lost their houses, according to the Office of Vietnam's National Committee for Incident, Disaster Response and Search and Rescue.

While there has been no report of Vietnamese casualties, 24 workers of Vietnam's Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group, a major investor in Attapeu Province, are currently trapped floods.

Vietnam's defense ministry has instructed Military Region 5, the Army's 3rd Corps, the Air Force and its 18th Corps to be prepared to assist Laos on request.

Doan Nguyen Duc, board chairman of Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group, said he plans to dispatch a helicopter to rescue the trapped workers and offered to help Lao authorities in their rescue efforts.

Hoang Van Thang, vice minister of agriculture, said late on Tuesday that the incident "will not cause significant impact" to Vietnam.

The dam is 650 kilometers (404 miles) from Vietnam and the water can reach the border province of An Giang after five days, possibly raising its water level by five meters, Thang said.

The collapsed dam is part of a hydropower project being carried by the Vientiane-based Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Power Company, or PNPC, a South Korea, Thailand and Laos joint venture formed in 2012. Work on the $1.02 billion dam 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.

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