Hundreds of people are missing and an unknown number dead after a dam under construction collapsed in south-east Laos, state media reported.
The collapse at the hydroelectric dam in Attapeu province late on Monday sent flash floods through six villages, Lao News Agency said.
The release of 5 billion cubic meters of water has left more than 6,600 people homeless, it added.
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The dam that collapsed is part of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric power project, which involves Laotian, Thai and South Korean firms.
The subsidiary dam, known as “Saddle Dam D”, collapsed after “continuous rainstorms” caused a “high volume of water to flow into the project’s reservoir”, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, the main Thai stakeholder, said in a statement.
As a result, the dam “was fractured” and water “leaked to the downstream area and down to Xe-Pian River” about 5km (three miles) away, it added.
“Saddle Dam D” was 8m wide, 770m long and 16m high – and was designed to help divert water around a local reservoir.
A spokesman for SK Engineering & Construction, a South Korean company with a stake in the project, told the BBC: “We believe parts of the upper part of [the] dam were lost due to heavy rain fall, and water overflowed from the supply dam.”
It is not clear how much advance warning residents were given.
[Featured Image: ABC Laos News]