The Sepien-Senamnoi hydropower dam burst at 8pm on July 23rd, releasing 5 billion cubic metres of water which caused flash floods in 10 low-lying villages and completely isolating Sanamxay district. Four days after the incident, the water began receding.

Most of the rescued people were found in the six completely submerged villages of Sanamxay. They are now in good health and are staying in the Sanamxay administrative centre.

More people are being brought out of the flooded areas.

Search and rescue teams on mission after the collapse of the Sepien-Senamnoi hydropower dam in Attapeu province’s Sanamxay district, in Laos.(Photo: VNA)
At a press conference on July 25th, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said 131 people were missing after the dam collapsed. He also said 587 families with 3,060 people have been made homeless.

Police and military forces, as well as other rescue organisations, have been mobilised for the search, according to Bongsak, who is vice head of the battle office of the Attapeu’s Military Affairs Section. On the ground, hundreds of rescuers from various forces have used canoes, boats, and ships to scour flooded areas. In addition, search and rescue forces from Thailand and the Republic of Korea also used individual dinghies to search in narrow areas and forests. Helicopters have been mobilised in the past two days to look for missing persons.

Also on July 27th, the Republic of Korea (RoK) decided to aid the Lao efforts with USD500,000 million in cash and necessities worth USD500,000, including blankets and personal hygiene kits, among others.

The RoK said a team of 15 doctors and five search and rescue personnel will arrive in Laos on July 27th.

Meanwhile, the SK group has committed USD10 million to help Laos overcome the consequences of the dam collapse.

Chairman of SK group Chay Tae-won made the commitment during a reception for the Lao Ambassador to the RoK on July 27th. The SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C) is a partner in the Sepien-Senamnoi Power Company (PNPC), which is building the Sepien-Senamnoi hydroelectric power plant.

Korean Air Lines also said it would deliver 36,000 litres of mineral water and 2,000 blankets to Laos. The goods were scheduled to reach Da Nang, Vietnam on July 27th before being transferred to Attapeu.

Construction of the Sepien-Senamnoi hydroelectric power project began in February 2013 and commercial operations were originally expected to begin this year.

The Sepien-Senamnoi Power Company (PNPC) is a joint venture formed in March 2012 by SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C), Korea Western Power (KOWEPO), Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding (RATCH), and Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE)./.