Thailand joins international aid effort for flooded Laos

national July 26, 2018 01:00

By THE NATION

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INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT from both the private and government sectors is pouring into Laos after the country’s southeastern Attapeu province was hit by a severe flash flood following the collapse of a hydropower saddle dam.



Thai company Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Pcl, which is involved in the joint venture to construct the failed Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Dam, has given an initial assistance of approximately 1.3 billion kip (Bt5 million) to Laos, the company’s public relations department said yesterday.

Ratchaburi’s stock was up by Bt0.25 or 0.49 per cent yesterday on the Thai bourse at press time.

Company executives have flown to the affected area to stand by to provide further assistance. It has also sought support from Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) to supply utilities to help with disaster relief for the thousands of people left homeless. More than 20 people were believed dead at press time.

The dam project, scheduled for completion in 2019, was reported as being around 90 per cent complete at the time of the collapse. Thailand was supposed to be a major customer for the hydroelectric power generated.

Egat director Viboon Rerksirathai yesterday said the agency had sent 500 bottles of clean water, 500 sets of survival kits, as well as Bt2 million to Laos.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday met with Lao Ambassador to Thailand Seng Soukhathivong and handed over around 1.3 billion kip as aid.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha meets with Lao Ambassador to Thailand Seng Soukhathivong and hands over Bt5 million to assist the rescue and recovery efforts after the dam collapse in Attapeu province.

Prayut said Thailand was willing to provide clean water, food, medicines and other help in the relief mission. The Thai Army as well as other disaster prevention and relief units have also been brainstorming on how they could help Laos, he said.

Seng thanked the Thai premier and said it reflected the friendship between the two nations.

Separately, Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan had ordered that a team be set up to monitor the situation and transport aircraft and rescue helicopters be readied for dispatch to Laos.

Individual volunteers have also shown enthusiasm by sending donations and other help for the victims in the affected area. But the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned that passports are required for people and their cars to travel across the border. They would also have to stay around Champasak and Savannakhet cities, which are adjacent to the border and not Attapeu.

The Thai Red Cross, however, is acting as a go-between and is accepting donations to pass on to Laos.

The collapsed dam is part of a hydropower project by the Vientiane-based Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Power Company. It is a joint venture between South Korea, Thailand, and Laos and was established in 2012. According to the Korea Herald, South Korean President Moon Jae-in yesterday ordered the dispatch of an emergency relief team to Laos.

Vietnam, also a neighbour of Laos, has offered assistance, although there have been no reports of Vietnamese casualties in the disaster, according to local media VnExpress International.

Vietnam’s defence ministry has instructed some of its forces to prepare to assist Laos on request, VnExpress reported.