SANAMXAY, Laos – The authorities in Laos have ordered closer monitoring of hydropower plants to find out why a dam collapsed in the southeast of the country earlier this week and has killed at least 27 people
flooding that rose on the rooftops slowly returned on Thursday as the evacuees flocked into muddy-flooded villages. Farmer Kongvilay and his wife Thongla Inthavong returned home after two nights in an animal shelter to find their wooden stake house washed 50 meters (1
"I'm worried the same accident might happen again," Thongla said as she and her husband scraped the dirt from their belongings. "But we can not live anywhere else, we've been here all our lives."
In a report, the Vientiane Times state said the Ministry of Energy and Mines ordered more accurate monitoring of reservoir water levels and reservoir conditions ,
It was said that the thousands of people stranded on roofs and in trees had been rescued by Wednesday. Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith described the disaster as the worst in years in the impoverished country with more than 6,000 displaced people after the dam gave way to a joint venture hydropower project after days of torrential rain.
Thongloun said the authorities were investigating whether the collapse of the dam was caused by heavy rains or inadequate building regulations. The South Korean company SK Engineering & Construction, which is responsible for the construction of the dam, said it also tries to find out why the dam failed.
The Red Cross, the South Korean government, and other organizations brought water purifiers, food, and other supplies to shelters swamped by hundreds of displaced families who were evacuated from a half-flooded no-man's land with orange mud and debris.
Originally, state media reported that hundreds of people were missing and feared to be dead. Difficult communication and heavy rains that have hampered the rescue efforts have probably contributed to discrepancies in information about the victims.
The exact circumstances of the collapse of the dam remain murky, and local officials said they formed a committee to "seek common ground responsibilities and responsibilities for the tragic disaster," Vientiane Times reported.
SK Engineering & Construction said the dam went down on Sunday while Korea Western Power, another project partner, said it was visibly weakening the earth-embankment on Friday
SK Engineering sent its president and an emergency team to the rescue and repair. A statement on Thursday said it would help build shelter for the displaced.
"We will thoroughly investigate the causes of the incident and take the necessary action quickly," said a statement earlier this week.
The Thai partner in the dam project, Ratchaburi Electricity Holding Holding Public Co., said the joint venture has sent experts to the area to investigate the situation and discuss with the authorities how the problem can be solved.
Monsoon rains clearly contributed to the disaster: a report by the interstate Mekong River Commission said storms had caused the water level along the river to rise by 3-5 meters (9-15 feet) last week.
Continuous heavy rain and strong winds could be predicted for the area hampering the salvage operations, and the risk of flooding in the mountain region persists.
But a flood of dams along the Mekong River and its tributaries, including those affected by this disaster, has raised concerns About Environmental Impacts and Other Issues  The $ 1.02 billion project that involves several river basins in a remote corner of the Southeastern Laos is the first hydroelectric plant built by a South Korean company, and it was unclear how severe the damage would be to the overall plan. The dam should go into operation in 2019, with 90 percent of the electricity generated should flow to Thailand.
Laos has dozens of hydropower projects under construction and plans to sell electricity to neighboring countries, of which about a third are exporters today, to grow significantly.
International Rivers, a non-governmental group that is generally critical of such projects, said the disaster demonstrates the need to improve warning systems.
"More than 70 hydropower projects are being built, built and planned Over Laos PDR – most of them owned and operated by private companies – authorities must immediately assess how dams are planned, designed and managed," the group said in a statement Statement.
Associated Press writer Youkyung Lee in Seoul, South Korea, and Grant Peck in Bangkok have contributed to this report.
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