Locals wary as Laos powers ahead with hydroelectric goals

Most dam projects resuming work after last year's disaster led to pause in building spree

After the collapse of a hydropower project in Laos that left thousands homeless last year, locals are nervous over the government's push to build more plants to export hydroelectricity.
Residents stranded by floodwaters in Laos’ Attapeu province after the collapse of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam in July last year. The disaster left at least 40 people dead and over 4,000 homeless.
Residents stranded by floodwaters in Laos’ Attapeu province after the collapse of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam in July last year. The disaster left at least 40 people dead and over 4,000 homeless. PHOTO: ATTAPEU TODAY/FACEBOOK

With one palm on his shaven head, Phra Khamsee Manivong stares at a backhoe levelling dunes of compacted mud by his temple. All around the ornate red and gold edifice, crumbled remnants of a boundary wall tangle with fresh creepers.

It has been 17 months since Laos' biggest dam collapse left at least 40 dead, over 4,000 homeless - and the deputy abbot clinging on to a tree for his life.

Please or to continue reading the full article.

Get unlimited access to all stories at $0.99/month

  • Latest headlines and exclusive stories
  • In-depth analyses and award-winning multimedia content
  • Get access to all with our no-contract promotional package at only $0.99/month for the first 3 months*

*Terms and conditions apply.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 29, 2019, with the headline 'Locals wary as Laos powers ahead with hydroelectric goals'. Subscribe