Lao gov't promises to handle transparent investigation for flood, dam collapse

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-20 19:03:12|Editor: xuxin
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VIENTIANE, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Lao government has promised to handle the investigation of the cause of the collapse of the auxiliary dam of Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Hydropower project transparently and openly with assistance and participation of multilateral parties of industry specialists, the nation's Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone has confirmed.

Sonexay, who is also Chairman of the National Ad Hoc Committee in charge of the post-disaster response, conveyed the promise in a press conference on Wednesday held by the committee for the first time since the immediate aftermath of the tragic incident resulting from the collapse the dam.

"We have hired a company from Switzerland to investigate the factors leading to the collapse of the dam," Sonexay said.

He noted the firm came replete with experienced independent international dam safety specialists.

"The investigation will be undertaken in a transparent, open and accountable way," he said.

Switzerland was one of the countries that had many dams but no major dam-related accidents had occurred, the Lao official said.

He also spoke about the dam developers hiring a consultancy firm to study the factors leading to the accident, noting that the two companies will work independently, with the respective investigations' results to be revealed by January next year.

While natural disasters were an unavoidable phenomenon, the dam safety was also related to its geologic survey and design, the official said.

To ensure transparency of the investigation, Sonexay revealed that a team from China had also expressed an intention to participate under their financial auspices to support the investigation activities and glean lessons.

According to the Deputy Prime Minister, the inspections will be imposed on the technical procedures of the project, usage of construction materials, and management of reservoirs.

Concerning disasters in Laos, he said the collapse of the auxiliary dam of Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Hydropower project had brought a historic toll in the tragic loss of lives and property.

The incident caused by the collapse of the dam has pressed the Lao government to inspect the safety measures of all hydropower projects across the country and decide to temporarily postpone all small hydropower projects including those authorized by provincial authorities

An under-construction saddle dam of the Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower project, invested by South Korean, Thai and Lao companies, collapsed on July 23, unleashing a large amount of water into some 13 villages of Sanamxay district, some 560 km southeast of Lao capital Vientiane.

The incident killed at least 40 people, thousands were affected and dwellings and property destroyed in the six villages of Sanamxay district, Attapeu province.