Laos: Dam bursts due to monsoon rain causing extensive damage to locals' property; co. denies that a breach occurred

Author: Max Avary & Roseanne Gerin, Radio Free Asia, Published on: 11 August 2019

"Dam Break in Northeast Laos Causes Heavy Losses For Locals, Builder", 8 August 2019

Heavy monsoonal rains in northeastern Laos ripped through a small one-megawatt hydropower dam in Xieng Khouang province’s Pek district...causing extensive damage and flooding rice fields and property....

...“This village has suffered a great loss,” said the man who declined to be named. “My parents’ two houses are badly damaged. Twenty-four families are the most affected. Ten other homes and 30 hectares of rice fields are also flooded.”

...It was not immediately clear if the dam breach caused any loss of life.

...Authorities are now assessing the amount of damage to the property of villagers who live just downstream of the dam. An initial estimate of the damage to the dam itself is between U.S. $400,000 and U.S. $470,000, he said.

In the video, the vice president of the Somphou Bridge and Road Construction Company, the dam's builder, denied that a breach had occurred and said that only her firm had suffered losses from the flooding.

“This was not a dam break; it was only water coming down so fast at once that the dam couldn’t release water fast enough,” she said. “But there has been no impact on or damages for people upstream or downstream. However, our loss is about U.S. $400,000.”

...But Premrudee Daoruang, coordinator of Laos Dam Investment Monitor, a network of activists focused on hydropower dams, questioned the company’s damage claim.

“In the beginning, the owner of the dam claimed that the destruction [involved] only the dam and not others,” she wrote in an email to RFA. “Later on, it was clear that there had been some impact to the agricultural land (and maybe other things) that belong to the people in the area.”

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