Laos accelerates aid to victims of dam collapse

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Attapeu – Laos is now accelerating its delivery of aid to victims of last week’s dam collapse, as officials scramble to search for those still missing.

The most recent death toll from the dam failure in Attapeu province was put at 27 and 131 missing. Aid groups expect the final death toll to be as high as 300.

Water poured into seven villages of around 6,600 residents, quickly submerging their homes. Reports indicate around 3,000 remain stranded as Laotian officials accelerate their rescue efforts. Foreign aid has been extended by Thailand, Vietnam, China and South Korea.

A rescue team from the UN has pointed out the difficulty in delivering supplies and necessities due to damaged roads and bridges, limiting access for boats and helicopters. Temporary shelters have been set up at schools, with around 1,300 in need of tents.

The Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric power project was 90% complete and was slated to begin generating electricity next year. The dam collapsed following several days of heavy rainfall. The project is a 1.2-billion-US-dollar joint investment between companies in South Korea, Thailand and Laos.

Meanwhile, Thailand has continued to provide assistance, with relief items and personnel being delivered by land and air.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) spokesperson Busadee Santipitaks confirmed that the Air Force had delivered 1,000 sets of relief items in two flights of a C-130 cargo aircraft, while supplementary aid was being transported by land across the border at Mukdaharn to a dry-port facility in Savannakhet, which will be delivered to Attapeu.