How better hydropower planning can avert future disasters on the Mekong

The collapse of the Xepian-Xe Nam hydropower dam in Sanamxay district of Attapeu Province, Lao PDR on July 23 is a major tragedy that took the lives of at least 34 Laotians, with at least 100 more still missing and thousands displaced. Some 50 days on, this disaster has come under intense scrutiny in part because the link between the causes of the disaster, human actions and development decisions are so clearly visible. Although the area experienced heavy monsoon rains in the weeks leading up to the flood, an inundation of this speed and scale was clearly driven by the dam failure.

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