Dam collapse in Laos leaves hundreds missing and unknown number feared dead

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Dam collapse in Laos leaves hundreds missing and unknown number feared dead skynews laos dam 4369926

Hundreds of people are missing and an unknown number feared dead after a hydropower dam under construction in Laos collapsed.

Laos News Agency reports that the accident in the southeastern province of Attapeu has released five billion cubic metres of water, enough to fill more than two million Olympic swimming pools.

Boats have been brought in to help evacuate people as water levels rise, according to ABC Laos news, with reports more than 6,000 people have been made homeless in the southeast Asian country.

A video posted on the network’s Facebook page shows villagers pausing to watch the fast-flowing water from the side of a river bank.

The $1.2bn (£915m) dam is part of a project by Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Power Company, which is also known as PNPC.

A number of companies are involved, including Thailand’s Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, South Korea’s Korea Western Power and the state-run Lao Holding State Enterprise.

The 410 megawatt capacity dam was meant to begin commercial operations by 2019, according to the venture’s website.

It was to form part of a series of dams over the Houay Makchanh, the Xe-Namnoy and the Xe-Pian rivers in neighbouring Champasack province.

The plan was to export 90% of the electricity generated to Thailand, with the rest offered up on the local grid.

Environmental groups have long voiced fears about impoverished and landlocked Laos’ hydropower ambitions, with several dams either already being built or in the pipeline.

In particular, concerns have been raised about the impact on the Mekong River, its flora and fauna and the communities that depend on it for their livelihoods.

As well as disquiet within Laos, several neighbouring nations are worried Laos’ ambition to become the “battery of southeast Asia” will disrupt vital ecosystems and their own river systems.

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