Friday May 27, 2022

Radio Free Asia

Heavy rains in northern Laos forced a hydroelectric dam on the Nam Ou River to release water unexpectedly, panicking downstream residents who said a late warning gave them little time to respond, sources in the country told RFA.

The Nam Ou has a cascade of seven dams that have been operating since October 2021. They are part of Laos’ controversial economic strategy of becoming the “Battery of Southeast Asia” by aggressively damming the Mekong River and its tributaries and selling the generated power to neighboring countries.

The Nam Ou 4 Dam, owned by the Power Construction Corporation of China, began releasing water on Monday after its reservoir rapidly rose. A district-level office in Phongsaly province issued a warning to its citizens earlier in the day.

“The Khoua District of Phongsaly province would like to inform party members, government employees, chiefs of villages and all residents, that heavy rain is causing the Nam Ou River water levels to rise, and the amount of water in the Nam Ou 4 Dam reservoir is rising fast. Therefore, for safety reasons, all residents along the Nam Ou River and Nam Bak River should be extra cautious,” it said.

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