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Two killed, two missing in flood-hit south

Two people have died and two others are missing, while more than 54,000 households in six provinces have been affected by storms that have caused widespread flooding.
Tropical depression Podul and other weather systems that have passed over southern and central Laos since the end of August have unleashed torrents of rain.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone, who is Chairman of the National Ad hoc Committee in charge of post-disaster response, on behalf of the government on Thursday visited people in Champassak province who have been displaced by the floods.
Dr Sonexay and Champassak government officials handed over emergency supplies to people in five villages of Pathoumphon district, who have been accommodated at the Km36 primary school after their houses were flooded.
The floods have resulted in the death of one person in Savannakhet and another in Champassak, while two people are missing in Champassak province, according to the Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
In Khammuan, Savannakhet, Attapeu, Saravan, Champassak and Xekong provinces, 54,207 families in 788 villages of 37 districts have been affected. More than 130,500 hectares of rice fields, 251 hectares of vegetable plots and 953 fishponds have been damaged.
In addition, 26 irrigation channels, six bridges, 45 schools, two dispensaries and more than 130km of roads have been affected.
More than 3,400 households and over 130 pets have moved from flooded areas to safe locations, and there is now an urgent need for food, drinking water, medicines, bedding and boats, the Social Welfare Department reported.
Saravan has been particularly badly affected, although the Nam Xedon river has now fallen from 13 to 11 metres. But although the river level has dropped in Saravan district, it is continuing to rise in Vapy and Khongxedon districts.
In Xekong province the level of the Nam Xekong river is also falling, although it is still raining, the Head of the provincial Natural Resources and Environment Department, Mr Bounlay Boudthi, told Vientiane Times on Thursday.
The Social Welfare Department is sending emergency equipment and money to the flood-stricken provinces. Provincial authorities held an emergency meeting to discuss ways to cope with the floods. Authorities are preparing safe places in each village and assembling boats to help local residents if need be. The Prime Minister’s Office instructed ministries and provinces to cooperate in dealing with the crisis as the Mekong and other rivers continue to rise.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare was advised to partner with local national defence forces and authorities to help people affected by the floods.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport should work with provincial officials to keep roads open so that transport links are not cut.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment should track weather forecasts and must issue warnings to people living in at-risk areas.  
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should be ready to provide people with new seeds so they can replant their crops.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines was advised to instruct hydro plant operators to monitor water levels to ensure that any release from reservoirs did not affect people downstream. Meanwhile, the Foundation for Assisting Poor People of Laos Rescue 1623 is accepting donations of food, drinking water and essential supplies from members of the public for distribution to flood victims in Savannakhet and Saravan provinces.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so through the Foundation.
The Foundation has set up four collection points in Dongdok village, Xaythany district; That Luang stupa; Nonghay village in Sisattanak district; and Nalao village in Sikhottabong district.

By Siladda Souliyong
(Latest Update September 6, 2019)

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