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Victims of dam collapse receive compensation

Some US$710,000 (more than 6 billion kip) has been paid to the families of 71 people who died or are still missing after an auxiliary dam collapsed in Sanamxay district, Attapeu province.
The 71 victims of the July 2018 tragedy comprise 22 missing people and 49 who were confirmed dead.
Their families were awarded US$10,000 (85.7 million kip) for each victim, following an announcement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The announcement, issued on January 23, instructed provincial authorities, an insurance company, and the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Co., Ltd. (PNPC), (the joint-venture developers of the dam) to disburse the compensation payments to the victims’ families in line with the relevant laws and insurance policy.
Sanamxay district Governor Bounhom Phommasane told Vientiane Times yesterday that the money was handed over to the victims’ families on January 26.
The collapse of the dam at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower plant caused a massive flash flood that wiped out five villages downstream, leaving more than 4,000 people homeless. Many other villages and their inhabitants were also affected.
Mr Bounhom said the relevant sectors were speeding up work to complete temporary housing this month, adding that the worst-affected people had already moved into newly-built houses.
The government is also working with the project developers to build permanent communities in new locations to accommodate the thousands who were made homeless.  The five devastated villages were no longer suitable for habitation and were at risk of suffering from similar incidents in the future.
The villages that were destroyed were Hinlath, Mai, Samong, Thahin and Thasengchanh. Other villages have been restored to a habitable state and the residents have returned.
The new communities will be built within the district, the governor said.
“We have prepared land on which to build the new houses and the area has been cleared,” Mr Bounhom said.
Provincial authorities and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport are finalising town planning for the new communities. It is estimated that construction of the new houses will take about three years to complete.
The government and the project developers will work together to figure out their responsibility for the disaster, including compensation for losses, restororation of damaged property, and rebuilding.
The project developers have provided assistance in cash and in kind to help with recovery and rebuilding.
The total cost of the damage is estimated at more than 1,300 billion kip, according to the governor.
PNPC is a joint investment venture between four major shareholders - SK Engineering and Construction of the Republic of Korea, Korea Western Power of the Republic of Korea, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding PCL of Thailand, and the Lao Holding State Enterprise.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update January 29, 2019)

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