At least 100 people are missing after a hydropower dam in Laos collapsed, local media reported on Tuesday.
Officials have brought boats to help evacuate people in San Sai district of Attapeu province in the southeast of the country as water levels rise after the dam collapsed, ABC Laos news reported.
Rescuers including the military and police rushed to the flooded area, in the San Sai district of Attapeu province, to save villagers by boat.
Survivors climbed onto the roofs of their homes, huddled under umbrellas as rain fell and waited hours before they were finally rescued.
They piled into long boats which carried them to safety after surging water inundated six villages when the £762m Xepian-Xe Nam Noy dam, which was under construction, collapsed on Monday night.
Reports claim more than 1,300 homes were inundated and more than 6,600 people have been left homeless by the flash floods.
Survivors have lost most or all of their belongings in the disaster.
People were moved away from the murky, fast-flowing floodwater and given shelter under tarpaulins at a temporary camp on higher ground.
But hundreds of people were missing and several people were confirmed dead, the state-run Laos News Agency reported on Tuesday.
It was unclear what caused the dam to collapse.
Southern Laos has been hit by heavy rain and flooding in recent days.
A video showed villagers stopping to watch fast-flowing water from the side of a river bank.
The state news report stated: “The dam collapsed at 8pm on Monday releasing five billion cubic metres of waters with several houses in the southern part of Sanamxay swept away, several human lives claimed, and several hundreds of people missing.”
The 410 MW dam was being built by the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Power Company (PNPC) in the south-east of the country, and was expected to generate about 1,860 GWh of electricity every year, state media said.
Construction started in February 2013, with an estimated cost of $1billion, and the dam was expected to begin commercial operations in 2018.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith suspended a monthly meeting and has gathered his cabinet and senior officials to monitor the rescue and relief efforts, Laos News Agency reported.
Amid the disaster relief effort, a campaign has been launched to collect clothes, food, drinking water, medicine, funds and other supplies for the survivors.
Environmental rights groups have for years raised concerns about Laos’ hydropower ambitions, including worries over the impact of dams on the Mekong River, its flora and fauna and the rural communities and local economies that depend on it.