Hundreds of people are missing and several believed dead after the collapse of a hydropower dam under construction in southeast Laos, according to state media.
The accident happened at a dam in Sanamxay district of southeastern Attapeu province late on Monday, releasing five billion cubic metres of water, Laos News Agency said on Tuesday.
“Several human lives claimed, and several hundreds of people missing,” the report said.
Several houses in the southern part of the district were also swept away, the report said, and officials in the province put out a call for relief aid for flood victims.
According to ABC Laos news, officials brought boats to help evacuate people from the area.
A video posted by the news network on its Facebook page showed villagers stopping to watch the fast-flowing water from the side of a river bank.
The 410-megawatt dam
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.
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.
The 410-megawatt capacity dam was supposed to start commercial operations by 2019, according to the venture’s website.
Among the companies involved in the project according to the Laos News Agency are Thailand’s Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, South Korea’s Korea Western Power and the state-run Lao Holding State Enterprise.[source: Al Jazeera]