Lao speeding up flood assistance in southern provinces

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The National Disaster Prevention and Control Committee yesterday met in Vientiane to discuss ways to improve disaster assistance delivery to flood-affected people in six southern provinces, especially supplying drinking water, food, and household essentials.

The meeting was chaired by Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and Chairman of the National Disaster Prevention and Control Committee, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng.

During the meeting, Acting Director General of the Social Welfare Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Vilayphong Sisomvang, reported that tropical depression Podul passed over the country at the end of August and beginning of September bringing heavy rain and flooding to the six provinces of Khammuan, Savannakhet, Attapeu, Saravan, Champassak, and Xekong.

Some 377,703 people in 175,422 families of 1,466 villages in 43 districts have been affected by flooding. The floods killed 14 people with three deaths in Savannakhet province, two in Saravan, five in Champassak, and four in Attapeu. One person in Champassak province is still missing.

Currently, flood victims are in immediate need of food, drinking water, kitchen equipment, bedding, and other essential supplies.

The government has provided initial emergency assistant of 1,650 million kip to the six provinces with 500 million kip to Champassak, 100 million kip to Xekong, 100 million kip to Attapeu, 600 million kip to Saravan, 50 million kip to Khammuan, and 300 million kip to Savannakhet.

The Ministry of Health has also assigned medical personnel along with essential medicines to assistant people in the flooded provinces, especially in Champassak and Saravan.

Authorities also set up drinking water production equipment at the border of Thataeng district, Xekong province and Lao-ngam district, and Khongxedon district, Saravan to deliver water to the flooded areas.

Authorities are using aircraft, helicopters and trucks from the Ministry of National Defence to deliver emergency supplies including drinking water, food, boats, tents and household essentials to the six provinces devastated by floods.

Helicopters are proving essential to deliver supplies where trucks cannot access because of flooded roads.

Floodwater levels are continuing drop, but many areas are still affected. The level of the Mekong River remains above the dangerous level of 12 metres in many areas. According to the daily forecast issued from the Meteorology and Hydrology Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, some rain is expected across the central and southern provinces.

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