Laos Pays Compensation to Families of Dead and Missing in PNPC Dam Disaster

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In this Tuesday, July 24, 2018, photo, villagers take refuge on a rooftop above flood waters from a collapsed dam in Attapeu province in southeastern Laos.
In this Tuesday, July 24, 2018, photo, villagers take refuge on a rooftop above flood waters from a collapsed dam in Attapeu province in southeastern Laos.
Attapeu Today via AP

Relatives of Lao villagers killed or left missing by the July 2018 dam disaster have received compensation from the government, government officials have confirmed.

The disaster, described as Laos’ worst flooding in decades, 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.

Attapeu Province Governor Leth Xayaphone confirmed the payment to RFA’s Lao Service on Monday saying, “According to law, we’ve paid a lump sum in compensation to the families who lost their loved ones.”

The governor added that the PNPC consortium has an insurance policy of about $50 million.

Compensation for property losses or damages have meanwhile not been approved yet because an official investigation into the collapse has not been concluded.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a press statement stating that a Special Task National Relief Committee had approved compensation of $10,000 per person to families of those missing or killed during the disaster.

The statement also indicated that there were a total of 31 people missing and 40 confirmed deaths. The committee also recommended PNPC, SK E&C, a South Korean company in the consortium, and the insurance company conduct a ceremony to hand over the compensation to the relatives and families of the victims as soon as possible.

The ceremony of the payment to the bereaved families was held Saturday in Sanamxay District, Attapeu province. The day before, local authorities and families of the victims also conducted a Buddhist ceremony for the dead by offering alms to monks.

“We’re not very happy about the $10,000 compensation,” said Bang Manichanh who lost both her grandparents in the disaster. “We have no choice but to accept it. They never talked to us, never asked us how much we wanted.”

Another victim, Bounnhok Keowai, who lost his 26-year-old son and his 5-year-old grandson also expressed his resentment. “They gave us $10,000 each, but it’s not enough,” he said.

“We can’t resist and we can’t say anything. It’s the same amount whether for the old, the young, the dead or the missing. That’s not right,” he said.

On August 20 last year, the Lao government paid $180 for funeral costs to the families of each deceased victim. The official death toll when these payments were disbursed was 39.

At that time, a staff member of the Sanamxay District confirmed the payment to RFA, saying, “That’s the initial compensation. Our government gives 1.5 million kip ($180) for each person dead or missing.”

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by RFA’s Lao Service. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

Comments (5)

Pat Morgan

from Nashville

United States need to stop sending aid money to Laos, or manage the aid funds themselves, that's the only way to keep the greedy Laos Government from taking advantage of the funds!

Jun 06, 2019 09:40 AM

Anonymous Reader

The Lao government kept the US $ ( hard currency ) and gave to victim the Lao kip that is worth less than a loo roll.

Feb 07, 2019 02:00 AM

Anonymous Reader

This is the whole picture. Free world countries sent relief funds to help victims of dam collapse.The Attapeu governor declared that the money would be used to repair roads in the province and only a few dollars were given to the victims. Not long after that, the governor said Laos didn't need more money but refused to return it to donators. At the same time the Lao blood-sucking government negotiated with Thai and south Koreans dams builders to get compensation. The money given to victims now is the money they should have received from relief funds. And the compensation is now pocketed by the Lao rat-government. Neat isn't it !

Jan 30, 2019 05:45 AM

Anonymous Reader

10,000 US dollars are exactly what victims should have received from the relief funds. The Lao party-state is very smart they keep the relief funds money and they give a tiny bit of it now to victims of dam collapse. It means they keep compensations from insurance and dam builders for themselves. Go to H... Lao part-state!

Jan 29, 2019 09:23 PM

Fair Justice

from Vientiane

Keep talking until they all die out Not too many left to receive their compensation anyway and they won't be able to buy Half house to live with that money and Make no mistake THEY JUST TALKING SAID THIS SAID THAT FOR LONG TIME AND NO ONE RECEIVED THESE MONEY. WHY DON'T THEY JUST SHUT UP AND GIVE THEM A FAIR COMPENSATION AMOUNT SO THEY COULD MOVE ON WITH THEIR LIFE.

Jan 29, 2019 04:14 PM

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