Dam collapse in Laos devastates several villages (July 2018)

Last Monday (July 23, 2018), one hydropower dam in Laos collapsed, causing a massive flood that destroyed several towns and several deaths (the number is still unknown). The flood destroyed town located as far as more than 70 km downstream. 

The dam was still under construction when it collapsed. The dam was part of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project being constructed by Laotian and Thai and South Korean firms. The collapsed dam was not a main dam; it was a dam designed to help divert water around a local reservoir. The dam was 8 m wide, 770 m long and 16 m high.
Image. Flood due to dam collapse in Laos (Source: scmp)

Laos dam collapse time frame (July 22 - July 24, 2018)

  • Sunday 21:00 local time (14:00 GMT) - The dam is found to be partially damaged. The authorities are alerted and villagers near the dam start to be evacuated. A team is sent to repair the dam - but is hampered by heavy rain, which has also damaged many roads.
  • Monday 03:00 - Water is discharged from one of the main dams (Xe-Namnoy dam) to try to lower water levels in the subsidiary dam.
  • Monday 12:00 - The state government orders villagers downstream to evacuate after learning that there could be further damage to the dam.
  • Monday 18:00 - More damage is confirmed at the dam.
  • By Tuesday 01:30, a village near the subsidiary dam is flooded, and by 09:30 seven villages are flooded.

Image. Dam collapse and areas affected (Source: bbc)

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