Toll rises to 26 in Laos dam collapse

Vientiane: At least 26 people have been confirmed dead and over 100 remain missing after an underconstruction dam collapsed in Laos just days back, state-run Lao News Agency reported on Thursday.

Searches are ongoing for 130 missing people from several villages in the Attapeu province after the disaster struck on Monday, Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said in a televised speech late on Wednesday.

There were conflicting numbers of people missing in the remote areas reported in the state media outlets of the secretive Communist one-party state, Efe news said.

The Prime Minister called the collapse one of the biggest disasters in the country in decades.

Provincial Governor Bounhome Phommasane has avoided confirming the exact number of fatalities to local newspaper Vientiane Times.

“Those reports got information from sources who assumed the vulnerable missing people were dead. I cannot confirm if they are dead or still alive. We have not found them,” said Phommasane.

Sisoulith said that more than 3,000 people who sought refuge on rooftops and trees have been rescued.

Help has started arriving from Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand in the form of rescue personnel, emergency supplies like tents and blankets, and medical staff, Lao News Agency reported.

The collapsed dam was part of the the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project, that released five billion cubic meters of water late on Monday to the nearby areas causing severe floods in at least eight villages.