Thousands still trapped after Laos dam breaks

People use a makeshift ferry to cross the swollen Xe Khong river due to flash flooding in Sanamxai, Attapeu province, on July 25, 2018.
People use a makeshift ferry to cross the swollen Xe Khong river due to flash flooding in Sanamxai, Attapeu province, on July 25, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Rescuers are trying to save thousands of people after a dam collapse in Laos sent a torrent of water through villages, killing at least 26 people and leaving many more missing.

The Vientiane Times, citing district governor Bounhom Phommasane, said over 3,000 require rescue and about 2,850 have been saved. Pictures from the scene showed people stranded on rooftops. Rescuers are using helicopters and boats to pluck them to safety in the remote area in Laos' far south.

The dam was a smaller supply or holding dam for a larger US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) hydropower complex. South Korean and Thai partners said heavy rain had overwhelmed the supply dam, causing cracks that were spotted on Sunday, triggering an evacuation alarm for villages downstream.

Activists said the disaster underscores the wider risks to local communities and the environment from Laos'hydropower building spree.

SEE TOP OF THE NEWS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2018, with the headline 'Thousands still trapped after Laos dam breaks'. Print Edition | Subscribe