Scores missing following deadly Laos dam collapse

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Rescuers are searching for scores of villagers missing after part of a newly-built hydroelectric dam broke in south-eastern Laos, flooding the surrounding countryside and killing at least 24 people.

More than 6,000 people lost their homes when the South Korean-built Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower facility gave way in Attapeu province on Monday, devastating surrounding villages.

Hundreds of people have taken shelter in nearby towns, travelling by bus and pickup trucks and sleeping on plastic sheeting.

Villagers take shelter after the disaster inundated thousands of homes (AP)

He said about 6,600 people have been displaced from their homes.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed people sitting on rooftops to escape the surging water, while others were carried to safety or rescued by boat.

One of five auxiliary earth-fill dams at the project began visibly weakening on Friday, according to Korea Western Power, one of two South Korean partners in the hydroelectric project.

People huddle on rooftops
People huddle on rooftops (AP)

The situation worsened on Monday as water cascaded out of the reservoir, flooding seven out of 12 villages in the area, SK E&C said. It was helping to evacuate and rescue residents and sent its president and a team of 30 people to the disaster zone.

Continued heavy rain and strong winds forecast for the area could hinder rescue efforts, and risks from flooding persist in the mountainous region.

A boat evacuation
People are evacuated by boat after the flood (AP)

Provincial authorities issued a call for emergency aid, and residents in Paksong are streaming to the evacuation shelter bringing food, as doctors attend to those needing help.

The International Red Cross said food was a concern because village food supplies were drenched in the flooding. It is arranging for water purification units to be sent to the area to ensure supplies of clean drinking water.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in has ordered an emergency relief team to help with the disaster.

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