China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent a fully equipped medical contingent to flood-ravaged Laos to help with relief efforts after heavy rains caused a hydropower dam to collapse. The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy dam, which was under construction a tributary of the Mekong River, released about 175 billion cubic feet of water in southern Attapeu province, close to the border with Vietnam and Cambodia. Flash flooding subsequently hit six villages in the Sanamxay district, killing at least 26 and displacing some 7,000 villagers, in addition to leaving hundreds of people missing. The 32-member Chinese medical contingent arrived ahead of other international rescue teams and immediately began working on disease control and providing emergency medical services, operating out of a make-shift shelter for victims set up in the Sanamxay District Middle School. Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said during a regular press briefing in Beijing that “China expresses its deep condolences for the casualties and property losses caused by the dam break in the Laos and deeply mourn for the victims. We hope that those missing will be rescued as soon as possible, the injured will recover speedily and people in the affected area will return to normal life and work at an early date.” Shuang added that “China is ready to support and assist in the Lao disaster relief efforts in a timely manner,” and that [the Chinese government] is “in close communication with Laos in this respect.” Last Saturday, China ‘s International Development Cooperation Agency announced that it would provide additional humanitarian aid to Laos, one of the poorest states in Asia, including, boats, tents and water filters.
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