VN Dam Break Unleashes Havoc, Group Says

A local environmental association charged that water released from a Vietnamese dam has caused four deaths and flooded farms along the Sesan River in Ratan­akkiri province.

The Sesan Protection Network said in a statement Thursday that three people have died from water-borne illnesses, one woman has been killed in a boat accident, and rice fields and farms have been flooded, allegedly due to water re­leas­ed from the Vietnamese Yali Falls dam upstream.

Approximately 60 villages comprised of Jarai, Tampoun and seven other ethnic minorities along the river are in danger from the flooding, said Kim Sangha, a coordinator with the association.

The recent flooding was heaviest from Aug 3 to Aug 13, but is “up and down,” he added.

The three alleged deaths from flood-related illnesses were in Ta Veng district.

One woman was killed and three people injured Aug 9 in Veun Sai district when the riverbank eroded so far that a tree along the water fell and struck a boat.

Ratanakkiri provincial Cabinet Chief Nab Bun Heng confirmed the death and some crop damage, but said the flooding was natural.

“Vietnam’s dam is not the cause of the flood because they release water from the dam very often and no one has had trouble” previously, he said.

Kim Sangha said that Viet­na­mese authorities had warned of the latest deluge through official channels, but it was too little too late.

The Sesan Protection Network met with members of the National Assembly on Aug 16 to discuss their complaints.

“Recently I had a meeting with the provincial governor, and the governor told me that he had or­ders from the Council of Min­isters to collect information about the pro­blems along the Sesan,” Kim Sangha said. “Now our project is working to contact the Coun­cil of Ministers to have a meeting with them, but we have not yet gotten a response.”

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