More Thai rescuers in Attapeu to help find missing villagers

More Thai rescue teams have arrived in Laos to help with the efforts to search for 120 people still missing in Sanamxay district of Attapeu province after the partial collapse of the Xe-PianXe-Namnoy hydropower last week triggered a devastating flood.

Vientiane Times quoted officials of the committee in charge of the rescue mission as saying that three new teams from Thailand with 49 rescuers and another eight-member team from China arrived on Sunday.

They said it brings to 180 the number of Lao and foreign rescuers involved in the mission. The arrival of the new teams came just one day after the committee announced it sought an additional 100 personnel to help speed up the search seven days after the disaster, amid complicated conditions hampering the efforts.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith announced on Saturday that the government, with assistance from various sectors, friendly countries and international organisations, would endeavour to locate, rescue or recover all of the missing.

Sanamxay district governor Mr Bounhome Phommasane said receding floodwaters had left vast deposits of sticky mud serving as a barrier to boat or vehicular access, according to Vientiane Times.

In many areas, rescuers have to wade and walk through muddy water, sticky mud, forest and around ruins of dwellings search for the missing, an official in charge of the search and rescue mission said.  “Continuous rainfall hampers our work. We also have to be careful of poisonous animals like snakes, centipedes and scorpions,” the official said.

Two MA planes and three MI-17 helicopters, boats, jet-skies, two heat detector vehicles among others have been utilised for the search, rescue and relief effort. There is still hope to find missing people still alive.

Finding all missing people, whether alive or dead, is our ultimate goal,” Mr Bounhome told a press conference Sunday evening. A member of a committee in charge of victim assistance admitted that grave fears were held for the remaining missing, many of them children or the aged.

It comes as remains of two deceased persons were located yesterday, one in Laos and another at Laos and Cambodia border, about 40 -50 kilometres away from flooding site. 

The tragic finds bring the total number of confirmed fatalities to 11, Vientiane Times said.


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