Thursday, 14 August 2008

Vientiane flooding update

In case the server for the Vientiane Times is busy, here is the latest from their website: http://www.vientianetimes.org.la.

"Sandbag wall finished today

Authorities will today finish building a 2.5-metre high wall of sandbags to protect central Vientiane from the rising Mekong River.
Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh ( left ) surveys the extent of flooding in Vientiane yesterday.

Construction of this wall was initiated to protect the city as forecasters predicted the river level could rise to 14.2m on Saturday. This prediction was revised yesterday and the river is no longer expected to rise to 14m in the capital. The work will be completed anyway.

Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh yesterday visited Bo-O and other flooded villages in Vientiane .

The Vientiane Flooding and Drought Prevention Committee's Secretariat Head, Vilasack Nammounty, said the level of the Mekong River remained at 13.65m between 11am and 1pm yesterday. But it had risen to 13.68m by 3pm.

“You know, the water in Luang Prabang province is going down so it may reach Vientiane tomorrow or the day after,” he told Vientiane Times yesterday.

According to the department, the river will rise to 13.85m today in Vientiane and decrease to 13.72m tomorrow. It will still be above the danger level of 12.5m.

“We will try as hard as we can to avoid the water flooding our capital, so we will not stop building the 2.5m sandbag wall,” Mr Vilasack said.

“After we finish building that wall we will wait and see what the situation is like.”

On Wednesday night, almost 100 people from the Ministry of Information and Culture were assigned to work overnight building a sandbag wall near the Mekong River Commission, including Vientiane Times staff.

Some houses and offices have built their own sandbag walls as protection against flooding.

The riverside has been filled with people coming to see the level of the river and police have blocked riverside roads to make it easier for trucks delivering sand.

Some residents, especially those living near the riverbank, feared the water level would increase, spill over the sandbag wall and flood their houses.

Vientiane experienced its worst flooding in 1966. That year the water level was just over 12m, but the banks of the river were not reinforced to prevent flooding like they are now.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update August 15, 2008) "


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