Laos dam collapse: survivors tell devastating tales as blame shifts to government’s aggressive growth model

As surging waters swallowed the ground floor of Vee Keoheuy’s home, she hoisted herself out the window onto a rickety boat with her husband, children and grandchildren – in the dark. Officials had told her neighbours in Ban Mai that heavy rains required the opening of a spillway. The reality was that some 40km upstream of the village, on the Xe Pian river in Attapeu province, south­eastern Laos, 5 billion cubic metres of water were gushing out of a dam that had failed and down into the Vang Ngao river.

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