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Hundreds Are Missing After a Hydropower Dam Collapsed in Southern Laos

24 July 2018

Environmental rights groups have for years raised concerns about Laos' hydropower ambitions, including worries over the impact of dams on the Mekong River, its flora and fauna and the rural communities and local economies that depend on it.

KPL News Agency reported several people have been confirmed dead and more than 6,600 are now homeless.

Massive flooding from a South Korean-constructed hydroelectric dam in Laos left several people dead and hundreds missing, state media said Tuesday.

The collapse at the hydroelectric dam in Attapeu province late on Monday sent flash floods through six villages, Laos News Agency said.

PNPC is a joint venture formed in March 2012 by SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C), Korea Western Power (KOWEPO), Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding (RATCH), and Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE).

The dam was built to divert the Houay Makchanh, Xe-Namnoy and Xe-Pian rivers into reservoirs that feed into a 410-megawatt power plant that is due to begin operations in 2019.

Several dams are being built in Laos, which exports most of its hydropower energy to neighbouring countries such as Thailand.

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Officials are asking neighboring provinces for help - and for anyone with a boat to come ferry people to safety.

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.

Yonhap said SK E&C was still trying to find out whether water had overflowed the dam or if the dam had collapsed.

The $1.2bn project planned to export 90 percent of its electricity to energy hungry Thailand and the remaining amount was to be offered up on the local grid.

Laos is one of the poorest countries in Asia.

The dam was built to divert the Houay Makchanh, Xe-Namnoy and Xe-Pian rivers into reservoirs that feed into a 410-megawatt power plant created to generate 1879 gigawatts of power a year, with 90 per cent of the power being exported to Thailand and the remaining 10 per cent used locally.

Six Vietnamese workers were killed when a gas cylinder exploded at the construction site of a hydropower plant in central Laos in July previous year.

Hundreds Are Missing After a Hydropower Dam Collapsed in Southern Laos