More than 100 people are missing following collapse at the construction site for the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydroelectric dam in south-east Laos yesterday.
At least 20 people have been confirmed to have died after the collapse caused floods to sweep through six villages downstream from the project site.
The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy project involves the construction of three dams on the Mekong River and work on site started in 2013 and the 1,860GWh facility was expected to be operational next year.
Engineers working for the PNPC joint venture, which is formed by SK Engineering and, Korea Western Power, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and Lao Holding State Enterprise, noticed damage to Saddle Dam D on Sunday. An evacuation programme was started while the project team attempted to undertake repairs and lower the water levels impounded by the dam but work was hampered by heavy rain.
Saddle Dam D is understood to be an earth embankment structure which was 8m wide, 16m high and 770m long and was designed to divert water around a local reservoir. Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, the main Thai stakeholder, said in a statement that the dam “was fractured” after “continuous rainstorm[s]” caused a “high volume of water to flow into the project’s reservoir”.