Laos' Meteorology and Hydrology Department has issued a nationwide 24-hour flood warning. In effect for over two weeks now, the warning came as a result of continued rainfalls that have inundated many dam reservoirs, forcing authorities to open the flood gates and that, in turn, has caused water in the Mekong and its tributaries to rise to near or above flood levels in some areas.
The flood gate of the Nam Ngum dam, a major dam in the province of Vientiane, has been kept opened for two weeks now, resulting in flooding in large areas of Muang Feuang, Vang Vieng, Kasi, and Toulakhom and causing damage to hundreds of houses and thousands of hectares of rice fields.
Flooding is a constant threat to Laos during the rainy season because of continuous rainfalls. It is estimated that floods destroy an average of 50-thousand-hectares of farmlands nationwide every year, causing a loss of more than 200-thousand tons of rice crops.
It is expected that flooding will be more severe this year because of heavy, continued rainfalls and water released from dam reservoirs. Areas along the Mekong bank are expected to be most severely affected, especially the capital city of Vientiane, the provinces of Vientiane, Bolikhamsay, Khammouane, Savannakhet, Salavan and Champassack.
A major cause of heavy rainfalls and floods is said to be deforestation which has caused Laos' forest areas to shrink from 53% in 1985 to 47% in 1992, and now 35%, about half of the original 74% more than thirty years ago.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.