Death Toll Rises in Catastrophic Dam Collapse in Laos
Jul 26, 2018AthleticComments Off on Death Toll Rises in Catastrophic Dam Collapse in Laos
PHNOM PENH At least 26 people are now confirmed dead and 103 others missing from Monday's catastrophic dam collapse in southern Laos.
The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy dam collapsed in the southeastern province of Attapeu, about 550 kilometers south of the capital, Vientiane, releasing as much as 5 billion cubic meters of water throughout the district, washing away hundreds of homes and leaving scores of residents homeless.
Witnesses told the VOA Lao Service that more 6,000 people were displaced as a result of the disaster. Many of them have been rescued and taken to government shelters in Attapeu and in nearby Champasack province.
Many of the injured have been taken to hospitals in Attapeu and other surrounding provinces.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered an emergency relief team to Laos to assist with the recovery efforts. Two South Korean firms, SK Engineering and Construction and Korea Western Power, are part of a consortium building the 410-megawatt project, along with Thailand's Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Company, and Lao Holding State Enterprise.
The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy dam was to be completed next year at an estimated cost of about $1 billion.
Just hours before the disaster Monday night, the consortium warned in a letter that millions of tons of water would surge down the Xe-Pian River if the dangerously unsafe dam failed.
In their warning letter, the consortium, known as PNPC, said the saddle dam had become unsafe because of heavy rainfall and would release 5 million tons of water into the Xe Pian River if it failed. The project reservoir is intended to rise 73 meters high by 1,600 meters long, with the capacity to store about 1,043 million cubic meters of water.
The Xe-Pian-Xe-Namnoy dams flow down into the Sekong River through Cambodia, and there are concerns of potential downstream impact.
Water levels across the Mekong region have been rising rapidly since July 15, in one case by more than 4 meters in the Laotian city of Luang Prabang, because of extremely high rainfall caused by tropical Storm Son-Ting, according to the MRC.
Harris said the incident raised concerns about the risks around dam designs unable to cope with extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change, and the adequacy of warning systems, including for dams currently under construction.
More than 70 dams are under construction or planned in Laos, including several on the Mekong mainstream. Harris said the roles and responsibilities of private companies developing these projects should be seriously questioned, in light of the disaster.
Comments Off on Taipei-Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau is promoting mountain tourism at the 4-day Taipei International Travel Fair that began Friday.
The bureau is focusing on five north-south mountain ranges — the Central Mountain, Xueshan, Yushan, Alishan and the Coastal Mountain ranges — in its pavilion at the fair, said bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Shi-chung (???).
Chang said there will be various exhibitions and forums on the mountains of Taiwan, as well as its unique cultural features such as historic trails and aboriginal lifestyles.
Taiwan is preparing to market 2020 as the Year of Mountain Tourism, after its efforts to position the country as an important international mountaineering destination in July, when the government allowed public access to the island’s national parks.
Previously, people who wanted to visit restricted “ecological protected areas” in Taiwan’s national parks had to apply for permits from both the National Police Agency and the Construction and Planning Agency.
Now, however, the Construction and Planning Agency has launched a new mountain permit application portal that requires mountain visitors to apply for only one permit and provides fast-track processing to expedite applications, the bureau said.
Much of Taiwan is covered by mountains, and it has 268 mountains of over 3,000 meters, according to the Tourism Bureau website.
That environment has made hiking and mountain climbing one of the favorite pastimes of Taiwan residents.
The number of permits issued to Taiwanese citizens and foreign nationals for access to trails in Yushan, Taroko and Shei Pa national parks has risen from 153,736 in 2016 to 187,053 in 2017 and 201,526 in 2018, according to Construction and Planning Agency figures.
In 2018, foreign nationals accounted for 7.24 percent of the permits issued.
There will be around 1,700 booths from 60 countries at the fair, to be held Nov. 8-11 at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.
The fair, the largest of its kind in Taiwan, will feature South Korean and Japanese tourism operators amid growing local interest in travel to those countries.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel