Laos dam collapse: Singapore offers US$100,000 to Red Cross and humanitarian assistance

A family displaced by a dam failure and flooding waits outside an empty coffee warehouse in Paksong, Laos. PHOTO: NYTIMES
A mother holds her son while waiting for food in a camp for people displaced by a dam failure and flood in Paksong, Laos, on July 25, 2018. PHOTO: NYTIMES
Rescuers work at a flooded site after a dam failure and flood in Attapeu Province, Laos, on July 24, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS
Volumteers prepare meals for displaced residents seeking shelter in Paksong town, Champasak province following massive floodings from the collapsed dam on July 25, 2018. PHOTO: AFP
Residents cross flooded areas of Sanamxai, Attapeu province, on July 25, 2018. PHOTO: AFP
Residents displaced by massive flood waters from the collapsed dam seek shelter in Paksong town in Champasak province, on July 25, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Government on Wednesday (July 25) offered US$100,000 (S$136,000) as seed money to kick-start a public fundraising appeal by the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) to help communities following the sudden collapse of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam in southern Laos.

"On behalf of the people of Singapore, I convey our heartfelt condolences to you and the people of the Lao PDR," said President Halimah Yacob in a letter to her Laotian counterpart Bounnhang Vorachith.

Other Singapore leaders also sent their condolences to Laos, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saying the Government has responded to the SRC's fundraising appeal with a contribution of US$100,000.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force is set to send a team of officers to help with the disaster relief efforts and bring along water purification equipment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday. The Singapore Armed Forces is also prepared to deliver humanitarian supplies and equipment, including tents, meal rations, bottled water, medical supplies and rubber dinghies, to help the relief efforts.

Pledging $50,000 in humanitarian aid, the SRC launched a public fund-raising appeal on Wednesday, and said it will send a three-man team to Laos on Thursday (July 26) .

The team will work with Lao Red Cross Society, and deliver relief supplies to about 1,000 families.

It will also conduct on-the-ground assessments to determine urgent needs.

Donations raised through the fund-raising appeal will fund the purchase and distribution of relief items, including first aid supplies, blankets and mats for survivors, and other disaster relief and recovery efforts.

SRC secretary general and chief executive Benjamin William said: "We are deeply concerned for the survivors, and plans are already in motion for SRC to provide immediate response.

"Our first priority is to address the urgent needs and to provide support to the homeless. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with our partners to render appropriate aid in this challenging time."

The dam collapse, which occurred on Monday, released the equivalent of more than two million Olympic-size swimming pools' worth of water, causing flash floods in six villages.

Over a hundred people have been reported missing, with some believed to be dead, and 6,600 people made homeless due to evacuations.

"With continued rain and strong winds predicted for the next few days, there is much uncertainty surrounding the situation at this point," said Mr William.

Donations can be made at Red Cross House, 15 Penang Lane, Singapore 238486, from Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm.

Cheques can be made payable to "Singapore Red Cross Society" and posted to the above address. Donors are requested to leave their name, postal address and indicate "Laos Flood 2018" at the back of their cheque.

Online donation via POSB/DBS Internet Banking and PayLah will be available next week. Donors are reminded that donations to overseas efforts are not tax-deductible.

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