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11 Nov 2018

Asia Times

Laos: Details emerge that govt and some companies knew of dam's defects days before its collapse

"Details emerge of 'confusion' in Laos prior to dam collapse," 08 November 2018

More details have emerged about the collapse of a dam in southern Laos in July, which suggest that local officials and the companies involved were not well prepared for a possible disaster such as the dam bursting.

Evidence is emerging that suggests there were signs of trouble at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower (PNPC) project in Champasak and Attapeu provinces in the days before the collapse on July 23.

The Korea JoongAng Daily reported shortly...that Korea Western Power...was aware of problems several days earlier.

Korea Western president Kim Byung-sook told the Korean Trade, Industry, Energy, SMEs and Startups Committee that his company was aware on July 20 that the top of the auxiliary dam had sunk 11 centimeters. However, the dam builders allegedly felt this subsidence was not serious enough to require repairs.

RFA’s Lao service says it obtained a record of communications between relevant officials in Attapeu and PNPC on the day of the disaster...

“The report appears to show that the government was ill-equipped to handle the emergency, with notices going up and down the chain of command, redundant communications between PNPC and local and provincial government agencies, and general confusion about when to start evacuations,” RFA said.