Laos dam disaster kills 17, several others missing
The bodies of 17 people have been recovered after a dam collapse led to flash floods in southern Laos, as two South Korean firms involved in the hydropower project said damage was reported at least 24 hours before the disaster.
A wall of water was unleashed Monday after parts of the Xe-Namnoy dam were washed away, submerging several villages with hundreds of people feared missing.
A Thai consular official at the scene of the relief effort in Attepeu province said 17 bodies had been “recovered.”
“But we cannot determine the number of missing yet,” Chana Miencharoen said, adding roof-level flood waters were hampering rescue efforts.
Footage on Laos television showed people huddled on roofs as muddy water several metres high swirled menacingly close below them.
“All of the dead are Laotian… more than 6,000 people are affected from eight villages near the dam,” Chana added.
Poor but blessed with abundant natural resources, Laos aims to become the “Battery of Asia” allowing dozens of foreign-funded dam projects across its network of rivers.
But fears over the environmental impact of projects, which export the majority of their electricity to neighbouring Thailand and China, go unheard inside the closed, tightly controlled Communist country.
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