Two Attapeu missing flood victims’ remains recovered

ATTAPEU, Laos (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Remains of two of the 31 persons who had remained listed as missing since the flash flooding caused by July’s saddle dam collapse were recovered on Wednesday and Thursday in Sanamxay district, Attapeu province.

The grim discovery brings the disaster toll from the collapse of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy saddle dam D that occurred on July 23 to 42 confirmed fatalaties with 29 remaining missing.

Remains found at Hinlath village belonged to a woman aged more than 60 years, while the victim in Thasengchan village was understood to be a girl aged between 5-7 years old, district Governor Mr Bounhom Phommasane told Vientiane Times yesterday.

The bodies of the victims were discovered in the areas of Hinlath and Thasengchan villages by district authorities in collaboration with Army personnel following a tip-off from villagers, the authorities said.

“We are now keeping the remains of both victims at the funeral site after collecting samples for forensic analysis such as DNA examination before making the official announcement to their relatives,” Mr Bounhom said.

Locating victims has been a painstaking process since July 23’s flash flood that left thousands of victims homeless and destroyed many hectares of crops with a thick layer of mud covering villages and farmlands.

“Despite search operations being officially halted by the government on October 15, exploratory efforts will carry on should the authorities receive additional information or evidence of the location of any trace of those remaining missing.”

At present, Mr Bounhom stressed that the army personnel and district authorities and facilities are well prepared to carry out search missions whenever they receive tip-offs regarding the 29 remain missing. 

Outside of the search operation mission, the district governor pointed out that the authorities had been strengthening efforts to allocate accommodation and planting areas as well as another needed facilities to help the victims to have access to better living conditions.

Discussing accommodation, Mr Bounhom emphasised that the second construction of temporary housing at Dongbak village is now nearly completed after finishing building the first temporary accommodation with 140 rooms in Hadyao village.

Currently, some 140 of 199 families of Mai villages who lost their homes in the flood previously housed at a primary school and camps in central Sanamxay district have moved to stay at temporary accommodation in Hadyao village, while the remaining families will be allocated shelters once they are completed.

 “The second single-storey housing block has 306 rooms. We expect to move some of the families made homeless in Mai and Thahin villages to temporary accommodation on October 25 before holding the official handover ceremony on October 30,” Mr Bounhom said.

Mr Bounhom explained that the construction of temporary accommodations in Hadyao and Dongbak villages are not yet sufficient to satisfy the demand due to the number of survivors rendered homeless by the disaster. 

To meet the goals and targets set, the authorities will continue to carry out surveys to prepare for construction of temporary accommodations in other areas and expect to finish the work shortly.