VIENTIANE, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Lao government will immediately focus on four main areas of assistance for people affected by the flood caused by the dam failure in Attapeu province's Sanamxay district, ministers told the media.
The four areas of concern were announced by Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith at a briefing conference held in Vientiane Tuesday, jointly attended by minister and deputy ministers for energy and mines, public health, and labor and social welfare.
The meeting updated representatives of international organizations, the diplomatic corps and media personnel as well as other government officials on the latest developments in the flood-hit region, and how the government was responding to the tragedy.
Saleumxay said first and foremost the government would continue the search and rescue operation for those who are still missing.
"We still have about 100 people missing which is a big concern," he said, adding that the government needed more sophisticated equipment to help locate them.
The second target, he said, was to rebuild infrastructure, especially road access to the disaster-hit areas, after roads and bridges were damaged or washed away by the floodwaters.
Trucks carrying emergency relief supplies had been hampered by the difficult conditions, he added. Some bridges could only carry loads of three tonnes which hindered the delivery of donated goods to the over 6,000 people affected by the flash flood, which was triggered by the collapse of an auxiliary dam at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower plant.
Saleumxay said it was taking too long for the authorities to distribute all the emergency aid that Laos had been given by the international community so it was essential to speed up the repair of roads and bridges so those people who needed help did not have to wait longer than necessary.
The third most important task was to distribute food supplies, while the fourth essential area of need was the provision of medical equipment and supplies, including ambulances and vaccines.
The Lao government is now calculating the total cost of the damage inflicted by the flood and will formulate a master plan for the resettlement and rehabilitation of the area so that people's livelihoods can be restored.
During the briefing Lao Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath said the government had formed a team, which included representatives of various sectors, to determine the exact cause of the accident. He expressed heartfelt sympathy with the victims of the disaster.
A representative of the Ministry of Health said the ministry's most urgent need was to provide toilets, vaccines and ambulances to keep people as healthy as possible.
The flood is one of the worst in Lao history and to date has claimed the lives of at least 34 people including three who died in hospital. Some 100 people are still missing, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Wednesday.
On July 23, a saddle dam of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric power project, invested by South Korean, Thai and Lao companies, burst, unleashing flood water from the mountain to 13 villages of Sanamxay district downstream the Xe Pian River, some 560 km southeast of Vientiane.