SK chief to provide US$10 mln to help Laos disaster recovery

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) -- SK Group said Friday it has offered to donate US$10 million in relief aid to Laos over the deadly flooding resulting from the collapse of a dam being built by its construction unit in the Southeast Asian country.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won made the pledge in a meeting with the Laotian ambassador in Seoul earlier in the day as he offered condolences to victims in the southeastern province of Attapeu.

The financial donation -- whose delivery has yet to be worked out -- is meant to help Laos quickly recover from the disaster and to ensure displaced people can return to their normal lives, SK Group said.

The move came four days after part of one of five auxiliary dams in the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy project gave way, flooding seven nearby villages and displacing more than 6,600 people.

The flooding killed 27 and 131 others are still unaccounted for as of Thursday, according to the official Lao news agency KPL.

On Thursday, the Laotian Minister of Energy and Mines, Khammany Inthirath, claimed in a news conference in Vientiane that the dam collapse was caused by substandard construction.

SK Engineering and Construction Co. said it is trying to figure out what went wrong.

SK E and C has a 26 percent stake in the US$1.02 billion Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower project, which also involves another South Korean company, as well as Thai and Lao partners.

The project calls for the building of two main hydroelectric dams and five auxiliary dams in Attapeu by February 2019. The fifth auxiliary dam was under construction and other building work had been completed.

SK E and C also said 18 of its officials left for Laos earlier in the day for disaster relief and about 30 others are set to depart to the deluge-stricken area by Monday. They will join about 120 SK E and C employees -- who have been working at the construction site -- for relief efforts.

Also Friday, South Korea decided to dispatch a disaster relief team to Laos this weekend and provide US$1 million worth of emergency assistance.

The Korea Disaster Relief Team, comprising 15 medics and five support staff, is to leave for Laos on Sunday, according to the foreign ministry.

The government will provide $500,000 in cash and $500,000 worth of materials to assist the Southeast Asian country recover from the disaster that swept away villages.

The relief items, including blankets, sanitation kits and other necessities, will be delivered on Saturday by South Korean military cargo aircraft.

Meanwhile, Korean Air Lines Co. said it has sent 36,000 liters of mineral water and 2,000 blankets to Danang, Vietnam, as part of emergency relief supplies for the victims in Attapeu province, which is closer to Danang than the Laotian capital, Vientiane.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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