Thai rescuers return home for new challenges after ending mission in Laos 

  • Photo from Vientiane Times website

Thai rescue volunteers have ended their mission in the flood-ravaged Sanamxay district of Attapeu in southern Laos and are headed back to Thailand where their service will be needed in many flood-affected areas in the northeast.

Vientiane Times reported today that Laotian officials declared a conclusion to the ground search and rescue mission yesterday.  It said as of yesterday 11 villagers had been confirmed dead in the flooding caused by the partial collapse of the  Xepian-Xenamnoy hydropower dam last week.

It said the mission between July 24-31 involved teams from Laos, Thailand and China.  These teams were assigned to search for missing victims in various parts of the flood-affected area where it was suspected victims might have been located.  They reportedly found constant challenges amid the thick mud, silt and sand, especially as floodwaters receded.

A rescuer from Thailand, Mr Thaweewat Phasawang spoke to the Vientiane Times at the site.

He said he was proud to take part in the mission to help affected residents in Laos and he tried his best to take part in this search and rescue with his team along with those of Laos and China.

“I’m delighted, and it’s also my great honour to help the people of Laos and shared with them our sympathy and care,” he said.

“At the same time, we are in a rush to get back to Thailand because many parts of our country are also under floodwaters too.”

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone, who is also head of a task force committee for dealing with the incident, was on site visit along with ministers and officials concerned to thank the rescuers for their contribution.

Officials in charge of the search and rescue operations also expressed their appreciation and thanks to those rescuers from Thailand, China and Laos for their tremendous assistance to assist the army in the ground operations.

Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Dr Bosengkham Vongdara and a delegation of senior  officials also visited the site and reminded media representatives to provide accurate and timely information about the incident.

He also thanked news media for their contribution to the understanding of this mission and the response to the tragic events.

Meanwhile, Vientiane Times also reported that Laotian authorities have accepted Singapore’s proposal to send a rescue team with heat-detecting drone technology in an attempt to locate alive any of the 120 people still missing.

It said rescuers have struggled to locate any signs of the missing after floodwaters receded to leave a coating of thick and sticky mud which has made it difficult for boats or vehicular access to remote affected areas.

“Our most urgent work is to locate the missing people,” the chairman of the search and rescue committee  Sonexay Siphandone, who is also deputy prime minister, said.