Laos struggles to find missing after dam collapse

Thousands are also displaced in Cambodia as the cause of the dam's collapse remains a mystery.

    Emergency teams in southern Laos are continuing to search for survivors following the collapse of a dam, which released five billion cubic metres of water.

    As floodwaters in Attapeu province began to recede, official sources said eight bodies had been recovered, while an official has suggested more than 1,100 people may still be unaccounted for.

    Homes were swept away and farmland submerged when an auxiliary dam at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy hydroelectric project collapsed on Monday night.  

    The deluge of mud left behind is hampering search operations. Some areas are inaccessible by boat, with helicopter flights being the only way to reach some communities. 

    Makeshift shelters are packed with thousands of people who fled their homes.

    Parts of neighbouring Cambodia are also flooded.

    "About 5,000 people here in Stung Treng province, right next to the border with Laos, were moved to safety on Tuesday, said Al Jazeera's Florence Looi, reporting from Stung Treng.

    "Floodwaters have begun to recede and the water levels in the Sekong river, which rose above the danger level several days ago, have began to fall," she added.  

    The disaster has revived the debate about plans by the Laos government to boost the economy by building dozens of dams to export hydroelectricity to neighbouring countries. 

    The reason behind the dam's collapse remains unclear.

    There are conflicting reports on when damages to the dam were first noticed, raising more questions on whether the order to evacuate villagers from their homes should have been issued earlier. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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