Three Lao workers trapped last week by a landslide while digging a passage to divert creek water to a nearby dam were found dead this week, with a fourth worker badly hurt, sources in the country say.
The three men killed in the accident, which occurred on Feb. 28 in the Paksong district of Champassak province in southern Laos, were identified as Hang, 41, a laborer from Savannakhet province; Koy, 35, a welder from Salavan province; and Ko, 32, a mechanic from Savannakhet.
Injured in the collapse was a driver from Savannakhet named Kanya, aged 49.
In an announcement following the bodies’ discovery on Wednesday, the Xaysongkham Company, which had been contracted by project owner B Grimm Power Lao Co. to dig the passage, took full responsibility for the loss of life.
“The company and the families of the victims have already agreed on the amount of compensation for their losses,” an official from the provincial Labor and Social Welfare Department told RFA.
On Wednesday, the victims’ families conducted Buddhist ceremonies and funerals for the men killed in the collapse.
Speaking to RFA on March 5, a provincial administration official said the collapse had also trapped a bulldozer and backhoe used to cut a 5-meter wide passage through a valley to send water to a reservoir servicing the Xe Namnoi 2 - Xe Katam 1 dam.
The dam, built at a cost of $49 million, has been operational since 2016, but its reservoir often faces water shortages, especially during the dry season, sources said.
An investigation into the accident’s cause is still under way, Lao sources said.
The latest incident comes as Laos has stepped up scrutiny of its ambitious hydropower dam building program following a July 2018 dam disaster described as the country’s worst flooding in decades.
The disaster occurred when a saddle dam at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy (PNPC) hydropower project collapsed, inundating 12 villages and killing at least 40 people in Champassak and Attapeu provinces, leaving many more missing.
Reported and translated by Max Avary for RFA’s Lao Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.