A hydropower dam under construction collapsed in Laos’ Attapeu province on Monday evening, causing severe flooding in six nearby villages, which has left hundreds of people missing and thousands homeless.
According to the Laos News Agency, the flooding has killed several people, however, an official toll has not been established.
Footage posted to Facebook by a regional news outlet shows people wading through floodwaters, carrying their children, the elderly and their belongings in an attempt to evacuate the area.
Dramatic photos shared alongside the video also show the extent of the flooding. Villagers are seen stranded on the roofs of buildings in the following photos as floodwaters appear to reach the roofs themselves.
Other footage shared to Facebook shows locals crying and panicking after “suffering from heavy casualties,” the user wrote in the accompanying post.
Why did the dam collapse?
Brandon Miller, a senior meteorologist at CNN International, shared the following hydrograph showing recent heavy rainfall and rising river levels, which led to huge pressure on the dam, and possibly causing it to collapse.
The Laos government released a statement on its website to say it had requested domestic and international assistance, but did not mention a cause of the dam collapse.
Another meteorologist, Eric Holthaus, referred to the ongoing deadly wildfires and heatwave in Greece and Japan in a tweet, saying these events, plus the flooding in Laos, were “striking examples of climate change playing out in real-time in its deadliest forms.”
South Korea’s government confirmed on Twitter this morning that it would “support local structure and accident investigation” in order to minimize the loss of lives. The statement was released following reportsthat a South Korean company was involved in the construction of the dam.
Multiple other governments around the world confirmed it would assist the Laotians in whichever capacity necessary.