Korean dam disaster leaves Laotians pleading for food, clothing

World | 13 Aug 2018 2:15 pm

Large numbers of people living in camps in flooded Sanamxay district of southern Laos' Attapeu province are still in need of food and cooking equipment, weeks after a dam built by South Korea's SK Engineering and Construction, collapsed, local daily Vientiane Times reported today.

Khai Damdikeokhounmy, 40, from Thahin village, is a homeless villager living in a camp in the center of the district, some 560 km southeast of Lao capital Vientiane, Xinhua reports.

"I have lost my wife and two-year-old girl. Now I don't have anything because the flood killed my family and took everything from me ... I need everything -- a home, rice, food, drinking water, cooking equipment and other essentials," he told journalists.

Chanthavy Xayasena, 25, from Khokkong village, also requested assistance, "My family of five has been staying at camps in the center of Sanamxay for two weeks. We need food, cooking stoves, cooking equipment and other basics, but we have received some tents, clothing and blankets. My family has lost over one tonne of rice together with household equipment, and my house was also badly damaged."

Fon Linthong, 45, from Khokkong village, mirrored similar sentiments. "I have been staying here for two weeks since we had to leave our village. When the flood hit, my family and 10 other people had to climb onto the roof of my house. We stayed there for eight hours until authorities came to help," she said.

"We too need food, beef, fish, pots and cooking equipment because there just isn't enough. My family has lost five buffaloes, three pigs and over 20 chicken and ducks, as well as two tonnes of rice, while two hectares of rice fields are under water and thick mud," she said.

Director of the province's Labor and Social Welfare Department Amkha Sihalath said that "Many people have submitted requests to authorities for rice, cooking stoves, pots and cooking equipment but we cannot supply them yet. We have makeshift kitchens in the temporary centers and have been providing them with food."

"When the temporary housing in five locations is complete, we will relocate people and supply rice, food, drinking water, cooking equipment and other consumer items to all families," she said.

Lao authorities are building temporary housing at Hadyao Primary School and in Dongbak, Hadyao, Donbok, Pindong and Tamoyoth villages.

Permanent housing in Tamoyoth, Pindong, Nonthasengchan and Dongbak villages, as well as essential infrastructure, was also being planned, according to local authorities.

A total of 13,067 people in 13 villages have been affected by the disaster. More than 6,000 displaced people are being accommodated at five temporary centers in Sanamxay district while others have gone to stay with relatives in Attapeu and other provinces.

An under-construction saddle dam of the Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower project, invested by South Korea's SK Engineering and Construction, Thai and Lao companies, collapsed on July 23, unleashing a large amount of water into some 13 villages of Sanamxay district.

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