Thousands escape floods after dam collapses in Laos

Source : Khmer Times 

Nearly 5,000 villagers have been rescued from four communes in Stung Treng province following flash floods. DAP News

Stung Treng provincial authorities yesterday evacuated 1,289 families, or roughly 5,000 people, residing in four communes along the Sekong river following rising water levels due to the collapse of a major dam that left 19 dead and hundreds missing in neighbouring Laos.

“The [Lao] flood water is now coming to our homeland, please find safety,” police and local authorities said over megaphones during the evacuation process yesterday.

Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management, said yesterday that what began as the evacuation of 557 families in four communes in Siem Pang district ballooned to 1,289 families as water levels continued to rise.

“Local authorities began evacuating them Tuesday night,” Mr Vy said. “Soldiers came to help transport people to safety.”

The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology said yesterday that flood water from the collapsed Lao dam named Se-Pian Se Nam Noi was now affecting areas in Stung Treng.

The ministry said that the Lao government was evacuating 17 villages in four communes.

Villagers set up temporary shelters on high ground. DAP News

“The water level of the Sekong river is now at 11.50 metres and now Stung Treng provincial authorities are evacuating residents living along the river,” it said.

Stung Treng Governor Mom Saroeun said yesterday that there were thousands of families living in Siem Pang district along the river.

Mr Saroeun said that it has become one of his administration’s main efforts to get people out of harm’s way.

“We are evacuating them to safety after the flood water arrived following the collapse of the Lao dam,” he said.

Kam Pit, RCAF border unit chief of staff, said yesterday that most families living in area were military and that they were prepared to assist their neighbours.

“Provincial soldiers came from the border areas and helped with transporting evacuees,” Mr Pit said. “Most of them are soldiers and members of the armed forces and their families live along the border.”

The NCDM earlier this week said that floods have affected multiple provinces and the capital city over the past two weeks.

A family transports a motorbike to safety. DAP News

It said that nearly 7,000 people have been affected in Preah Sihanouk, Kampot, Battambang, Kampot, Kampong Speu, Ratanakkiri provinces and Phnom Penh.

It added that Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered local authorities to stay vigilant and prepare to intervene.

The Mekong River Commission yesterday said that the collapse of the Lao dam was a tragedy and offered its support to those who are affected.

“We would like to express our condolences for this tragedy in Laos. We stand ready to lend our support,” said MRC CEO Pham Tuan Phan.

According to ABC News yesterday, Bouhom Phommasane, a Laotian district governor, said that more than 3,000 people were stranded, while about 2,851 people were already evacuated.



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