SK Group of South Korea to donate US$10 million to Laos

SK Group of South Korea, a major partner in the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam project whose partial collapse triggered a devastating flood that ravaged several villages in southeastern Laos, has offered to donate US$10 million (about 310 million baht) in relief aid to Laos, Yonhap news agency reported.

It said SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won made the pledge in a meeting with the Laotian ambassador in Seoul earlier Friday as he offered condolences to victims in the southeastern province of Attapeu.

The financial donation — whose delivery has yet to be worked out — is meant to help Laos quickly recover from the disaster and to ensure displaced people can return to their normal lives, SK Group said.

The move came four days after part of one of five auxiliary dams in the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy project gave way, flooding seven nearby villages and displacing more than 6,600 people.

On Thursday, the Laotian Minister of Energy and Mines, Khammany Inthirath, claimed in a news conference in Vientiane that the dam collapse was caused by substandard construction.

SK Engineering & Construction Co. said it is trying to figure out what went wrong.

SK E&C has a 26 percent stake in the US$1.02 billion hydropower project, which also involves another South Korean company, as well as Thai and Lao partners.

The project calls for the building of two main hydroelectric dams and five auxiliary dams in Attapeu by February 2019. The fifth auxiliary dam was under construction and other building work had been completed.

SK E&C also said 18 of its officials left for Laos earlier in the day for disaster relief and about 30 others are set to depart to the deluge-stricken area by Monday. They will join about 120 SK E&C employees — who have been working at the construction site — for relief efforts.

Yonhap said the South Korean government will dispatch a disaster relief team to Laos this weekend and provide US$1 million worth of emergency assistance.
The Korea Disaster Relief Team, comprising 15 medics and five support staff, is to leave for Laos on Sunday, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The government will provide US$500,000 in cash and US$500,000 worth of materials to assist the Southeast Asian country recover from the disaster that swept away villages.

The relief items, including blankets, sanitation kits and other necessities, will be delivered on Saturday by South Korean military cargo aircraft.

Meanwhile, Yonhap reported that Korean Air Lines said it has sent 36,000 liters of mineral water and 2,000 blankets to Danang, Vietnam, as part of emergency relief supplies for the victims in Attapeu province, which is closer to Danang than the Laotian capital, Vientiane.


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