Hundreds people are missing after a hydroelectric dam collapsed in Laos

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The collapse released 5 billion cubic meters of waters, sweeping away several houses in the Sanamxay district of Attapeu province. Hundreds of people are missing and several are feared dead. Some people climbed on rooftops of partially submerged houses. “Some seven villages home to about 1,300 families and over 6,000 people were under water,” authorities declared. Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith suspended a monthly government meeting to visit the stricken region and review evacuation and relief efforts. The disaster left more than 6,600 people homeless.

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SK Engineering & Construction said the company ordered the evacuation of 12 villages as soon as it became clear that the dam would collapse. The dam collapsed at 8:00 p.m. local time on Monday. The collapsed dam was expected to start commercial operations by 2019 and export 90 percent of its power to Thailand under a Power Purchase Agreement between the Xe-Pian-Xe Namnoy Power Company (PNPC) and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). Environmental rights groups have for years raised concerns about Laos’ hydropower ambitions, including worries over the impact of dams on the Mekong River, its flora and fauna and the rural communities and local economies that depend on it.

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