Laos: Disasters claim 108 lives, cause 466 trillion kip losses in eight years

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Various disasters have claimed 108 lives and caused more than 466 trillion kip in infrastructure losses and property damage across the country from 2010 to date, a new report has revealed.

The disasters recorded in Laos included storms, storm-caused flooding, drought, fires, disease outbreaks and insect outbreaks damaging crops, according to the report from the National Ad Hoc Committee in charge of dealing with the aftermath of the deadly flood in Sanamxay district, Attapeu province.

In recent years, storm-caused flooding, flash floods and landslides appear to have claimed more lives compared to other types of disasters.

The committee noted the increasing effects of global climate change have caused frequent natural disasters in many countries, including Laos, undermining socio-economic development and threatening lives.

Laos has experienced a number of disasters in recent years. These include tropical storms Haima and Nock-Ten which swept across the country in 2011 resulting in 30 deaths and affecting over 500,000 people in 12 provinces, according to previous reports.

In 2013, the damage from natural disasters was estimated to exceed 1,000 billion kip. Flooding and landslides killed 29 people, and more than 350,000 people were affected to varying degrees.

Every year, the government spends huge amounts of money to relieve, recover and mitigate losses and damage caused by the disasters, the committee said.

This year, Laos has suffered heavily from storms, especially tropical storm Son-tinh which lashed 11 provinces across the country from July 15-22.

Continuous and heavy rainfall brought by tropical storm Son-tinh caused severe flooding in nine provinces.

More than 780 villages in these provinces were inundated, affecting thousands of families while more than 74,000 hectares of farmland were submerged.

Thousands of families have been evacuated and now live in temporary shelters.

Attapeu province in the south has been hardest hit after continuous rainfall caused a fracture of saddle dam D, one of five auxiliary dams of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project.

The collapse of the dam on July 23 flooded 13 villages in the province’s Sanamxay district killing 34 villagers with 100 people still missing as of Monday. Thousands have been left homeless causing the government to name the Sanamxay flood site a ‘national emergency disaster zone’. Six villages in the zone were wiped out.

State authorities are warning members of the public to pay close attention to forecasts and to stay alert to weather conditions as well as the levels of the Mekong and its tributaries, with the rainy season likely to continue for many more weeks. 

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