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16 dead in Laos landslides
Publication Date : 23-08-2013
About 16 people died on Wednesday night after landslides buried a number of houses in Pakbaeng district, Oudomxay province, following two days of heavy rain, according to local authorities.
Head of the provincial Public Works and Transport Department, Synuan Khamdee, told Vientiane Times on Thursday that heavy rains on August 20-21 resulted in numerous landslides across mountainous areas of Oudomxay.
Authorities reported that following talks with local people, they had confirmed 16 fatalities in Pakbaeng district. The worst hit was Phearhuanam village, after a landslide buried several houses, resulting in the deaths of 10 people including five women.
Another three men and one woman were reportedly buried in Napa village while another two people were killed in Thameun village, Synuan said. He explained that most of the people killed were living in houses perched along the roadside in mountainous areas, with this particular road prone to landslides in inclement weather.
The worst affected area was along Road No 2W, running from Km 22 to Km 50 between the border of Xay district and central Pakbaeng district. Many sections of the road were hit by landslides and cascades of water after heavy rains, while power and phone lines were also brought down by the shifting earth.
“Some areas of Pakbaeng district are currently without power and telephone connections, and Road No 2W is off limits to motorists. We are now focusing on clearing the road and repairing some bridges to restore access as quickly as possible,” Synuan said.
It won't be easy to clear all the landslides in one or two days, he added, saying that aside from the houses buried, many trees were also brought down and will have to be removed.
“The heavy rains on Wednesday, which are continuing, have also led to the loss of livestock and crop damage. We are waiting for reports from local authorities so that we can assess the extent of the losses suffered.”
Head of the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department,Phonsavanh Phanthavichit, said some areas in the centre of Xay district were also inundated following the rapid rise of the Kor River, which flooded Luexay market and some houses in low lying areas.
However, he noted that Xay district wasn't as hard hit as Pakbaeng, which is where the focus of relief activities will lie.
Head of the Weather Forecasting and Aeronautical Meteorology Division, Vandy Duangmala, said the heavy rains in Oudomxay province were due to a local low pressure system, which saw 72mm of rain dumped on the area on Tuesday, with continuing precipitation since then.
The centre of the low pressure system is currently located somewhere over the northern provinces, but is bringing widespread rains to most of the country, he reported.
“Fortunately, we are not threatened by the latest tropical storm, which is still far away to the north east over the Pacific Ocean,” he said.
In Luang Prabang province, the road linking the capital to Phonxay district is also blocked following heavy rain. The main landslide is located in Pakxeuang village, about 60km from the town of Luang Prabang, and motorists will not be able to pass until the road is clear.