KPL, the official Lao news agency, reported that the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower dam collapsed at 8 p.m. on Monday, releasing five billion cubic meters of water and sweeping away homes in the southern province of Attapeu, which lies along the country’s border with Vietnam and Cambodia. The agency did not give an exact death toll.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos later suspended a planned government meeting and led members of his cabinet to monitor rescue and relief efforts around the collapsed dam, the agency reported on Tuesday.
Laos is a landlocked authoritarian state and one of the poorest countries in Asia.
The 410-megawatt dam was being built by the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Company, a joint venture between a state-owned Laotian company and several other companies, the KPL agency said. Construction on the dam began in 2013, five years after the completion of a feasibility study, KPL reported.
The dam was expected to begin operating by 2019 and to generate approximately 1,879 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Company says on its website. Ninety percent of the electricity would be sold to neighboring Thailand, and the other 10 percent within Laos, the company says.