I’ve been reading from so many sources regarding the number of death tolls in Laos from Ketsana. On earlier reported that 16 dead and 135 missing. Now, the latest report is saying only 3 dead and 20 people are missing. I really don’t know which reports I should trust. Also, the news coming out of Laos is super slow and I’m sure the government have to get their stamp of approval before releasing any information.
Ketsana toll remains at three with 20 missing
The death toll in southern Laos caused by tropical storm Ketsana currently remains at three with at least 20 others missing, officials say.
Deputy Head of the Army’s Disaster Prevention Unit, Lieutenant Colonel Saichay Kommasith, confirmed one of the dead and 10 of those missing were in Attapeu province, including eight Vietnamese workers at the Xekhaman I hydropower plant.
Local media reported at least 10 others living in rural areas of the province are still missing.
The two other fatalities were reported in Savannaket province by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and Lao Red Cross.
The authorities have asked for assistance from Cambodian officials in the search for the missing people who are thought to have been swept across the river border to Cambodia .
The storm cut through the southern Lao provinces of Xekong, Attapeu, Savannakhet and Saravan on September 29 causing severe flooding, especially in Xekong and Attapeu.
The storm then weakened and the water level fell in the following days.
Government officials, soldiers, police officers and volunteers have been deployed with rescue equipment to search for the remaining missing and provide assistance to affected people.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh and his entourage visited the affected provinces and are scheduled to oversee work there for several days.
Thousands of affected people in the provinces have been relocated to safer areas, but still need emergency help.
The Lao government has announced at least 1 billion kip for emergency relief including food, drinking water, clothing and other essential items for distribution to flood victims.
In Xekong, 291 houses in 29 villages were inundated and some were swept away. Overall 1,670 households of 8,640 people have been affected and relocated, according to provincial Deputy Governor Lieng Khamphoune.
Some 679 hectares of rice fields and 780 hillside rice cultivation areas were damaged. Two small hospitals in Kaleum district and two hotels in Lamam district were destroyed.
Numerous livestock have been killed and swept away, but official data on this is still being collected.
The estimated loss in this province alone was at least 40 billion kip, according to Mr Lieng.
In Saravan, the flood damaged 8,000 hectares of rice fields in the three districts of Saravan, Vapi and Khongxedon. The authorities are still waiting for information from Ta-Oy and Samuay districts, according to provincial Deputy Governor Bounthien Phommasathit.
Information regarding loss of livestock, damage to houses and other flood related loss is also being collected in Attapeu and Savannakhet provinces.
Officials are expecting huge property losses from the flooding, which is the worst in many decades.
In Attapeu province, local media reported that flooding of this magnitude had not been seen since 1968.
Authorities said officials had reached all communities to begin helping people in need, although some hard hit areas were still only accessible by boat or helicopter.
Despite contributions from the government, international and civil organisations, embassies and individuals, there is still a great demand for help and the public have been urged to contribute humanitarian aid in cash or in kind.
Those interested in making a donation should contact the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare’s Social Welfare Department on 021 222 776 or 213005.
The United States Embassy to Laos on Friday provided the Lao Red Cross with funds of US$50,000 to purchase food and other vital items to distribute to the victims.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update October 5 , 2009)