The Thailand government has rushed rescue teams and medical personnel to devastated communities downstream of an under-construction dam in Lao PDR that reportedly partially collapsed on Monday obliterating communities, leaving hundreds of people missing and displacing more than 6,600.
Speaking after his return to the capital from a mobile Cabinet meeting Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said the Thai government is willing to provide support in terms of personnel, rescue teams, and necessary materials.
Thai rescue teams and medical personal had deployed to some of the worst effected areas and were now delivery humanitarian aid, he said.
During a meeting earlier today with Lao PDR Ambassador to Thailand, Seng Soukhathivong, General Chan-o-cha provided an immediate preliminary grant of Bt5 million (about$149,770) to assist with relief efforts. The grant came on top of an earlier initial grant of Bt100,000 (US$2,995) by Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
Additionally, Thailand’s honorary Ambassador to Vientiane Kiattikhun Chartprasert today handed over Bt500,000 on behalf of Thai companies and people living in Lao PDR, while Thailand’s consul general in Savannakhet, Russ Jalichandra, handed over a gift of Bt100,000 ($2,995).
Thailand’s Buddhist community is also rallying behind their compatriots with the Supreme Patriarch providing about Bt1 million ($29,954) in relief materials to Lao authorities and instructing all Buddhist temples in the northeast to gather food and other necessities so that they can be sent to help the flood victims.
A relief coordinating centre has also been established at the Chong Mek border crossing in Ubon Ratchathani to manage donations of food, drinking water, and other necessities being donated by the Thai public.
In Lao PDR the Royal Thai Embassy has opened a bank account for Thais (or anyone else) wishing make cash donations, and is collecting dry food, survival kits, drinking water, and medicines for distribution to those affected.
Earlier in the day a Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) C-130 transport aircraft and a Eurocopter EC725 Caracal (Airbus Helicopters H225M) long-range tactical transport helicopter were despatched from Ubon Ratchathani Airport with personnel, supplies, and equipment to assist Lao authorities.
Entire communities swept away
Entire communities San Sai district of Attapeu province in Lao PDRs southeast were swept away on Monday night following the partial collapse of a dam forming part of the $1 billion Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydroelectric power plant.
Scheduled to come on line next year, the power plant is being built by a multi-nation consortium led-by South Korean construction company SK Engineering & Construction (SKEC) in collaboration with Korea Western Power Co., (KOWEPO), Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Pcl., (REGH), and Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE).
When complete the 400MW hydropower plant is expected to produce about 1,860GWh of electricity annually, with 90 per cent of the output to be sold to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
According to SKEC some 50 construction workers were evacuated from the site when it became obvious that a failure was imminent, while 12 villagers were also ordered to evacuate immediately.
The continued heavy in the region and unexpected torrent of water released by the dam’s failure have seen rapid increases in the height of the Mekong River.
An update issued by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) on July 24 reported that the height of the Mekong River in Laos had increased by up to four meters, and by almost five meters in Nong Khai, Thailand.
In Cambodia the height of the Mekong River had increased by almost three meters in Stung Treng, by almost two meters in Kratie, and by slightly more than two meters in Kampong Cham. Further increases are expected next week.
Emergency telephone numbers for Thais in Laos
- Royal Thai Embassy Vientiane:
- +85621214581-3 ext 111
- Liaisons in Attapeu:
Update: This story was last updated at 14:30 on November 1, 2018. A video that inaccurately purported to show the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam collapse was removed.
Feature video Global News
- Thailand to send help to Laos after hydropower dam collapse (NNT)
- PM Prayut conveys condolences to flood victims in Laos (NNT)
- Hundreds missing in Laos after collapse of dam under construction (Reuters)
- Rapid increase in water levels caused by extremely high rainfall from tropical storm Son-Tinh (Mekong River Commission)
- Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Hydroelectric Power Project (Power Technology)
Joanne Encantador in Phnom Penh contributed to this story
This story was originally published as Dam failure sees entire villagers swept away in Lao PDR
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia.
He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.