Thousands affected by floods in northern Laos


Houses and bridges have been damaged by floodwaters in Xayaboury province. - VT

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Thousands of people in northern areas of Laos are suffering after rivers flooded following several days of heavy rain.

Xayaboury, Huaphan and parts of Luang Prabang and Vientiane provinces have been the hardest hit, with at least 10 districts affected. In some areas, roads have become impassable and water and electricity supplies have been cut off.

In Xayaboury, provincial authorities declared an emergency on Friday after the Houng River overflowed its banks, swamping riverside villages and partially submerging houses.

People who have been forced to leave their homes now need clothing, food and drinking water, while authorities are assessing the extent of the flooding and collecting information about the number of people affected.

Officials have been helping people to move to higher ground, the province’s Deputy Governor Phetthixay Sounvilay said, adding that as some roads are flooded they are having to use boats to evacuate people.

Some 600 military personnel have been called in to assist with relief efforts.

More than 10 villages in five districts of Xayaboury province are affected, including Xienghone, Hongsa and Paklai districts.

The number of people left homeless has not yet been assessed because local authorities are busy evacuating people and providing emergency relief, according to local reports.

Many people are now in need of shelter, food and drinking water and some need boats to move around.

Phetthixay said villagers have been moved schools and other places on higher ground, while others are staying with relatives in unaffected areas.

In Huaphan province, Xamneua district has experienced flooding. Photos and video clips posted on social media by official news channels and local people showed how villagers are struggling to move their belongings and vehicles.

In Vientiane province, the Xong River in Vangvieng district also overflowed its banks, inundating local communities and resorts in the tourist hotspot. A bridge that crosses the river on the way to Chang Cave has been damaged by floodwaters.

In Luang Prabang province, flooding has occurred in Ngoy and Phonxay districts, with posts on social media providing graphic pictures of the difficult situation faced by local residents.

The number of people who are temporarily homeless has not yet been assessed because local authorities are busy evacuating people and providing emergency relief.

In provinces bordering Huaphan and Luang Prabang, authorities are preparing for similar problems and preparing safe places where people whose homes have been flooded can take shelter.

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