The dam of a hydropower plant in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai broke on Wednesday, damaging hundreds of crops, though luckily no casualties were reported. Authorities blamed the dam’s poor quality for the break.
The incident occurred at 5 am Wednesday in Ia Dom Commune, Duc Co District, when a 40 meter section of the 200 meter-wide dam of the Ia Krêl hydro power plant suddenly collapsed.
As a result, the water in the reservoir inside the dam, which is designed to contain 8-10 million cubic meters of water, poured out and rapidly flooded the downstream area of the Se San River.
The incident affected hundreds of people in the area and submerged and damaged about 200 hectares of crops.
Nearly 70 stilt houses, six motorbikes and many other belongings were swept away by the sudden flood.
Vo Thanh Hung, chairman of the district People’s committee, said, “After the incident occurred, we reported it to the provincial authorities and mobilized all possible facilities and forces, including soldiers and policemen, to rescue people and protect properties.”
By the afternoon of June 12, everyone endangered by the flood had been rescued safely, Hung said, adding that the local authorities are calculating the damage and will help affected people recover from the disaster.
Puih Ơnh, a local, was one of many who would have died if they had failed to escape in time, said, “While I was checking my fishing net in the Ia Krêl stream, I saw a huge wave of water that was twice as tall as me rushing towards me. I immediately ran home and told my wife to escape with our children…”
Poor quality thought to be cause
Yesterday evening, Pham The Dung, chairman of the Gia Lai Province People’s Committee, convened an urgent meeting in Duc Co to review the incident and discuss possible causes.
“If the dam had collapsed at midnight, when everybody was sleeping, the outcome would have been much more serious,” he said.
No representatives of the investor, Bao Long Gia Lai Industrial and Hydropower Joint Stock Company, or the contractor appeared after the dam failed, Dung said.
“We will work with them. They must compensate those who have been affected by the incident,” he stressed.
Many attendants at the meeting blamed the dam break on the poor technical quality of the structure. They also agreed that the improper deforestation around the dam worsened the aftermath of the break.
Le Vinh, director of the provincial Construction Department, said, “In my opinion, the cause is the poor quality of the dam, which was built without care… I will ask the contractors to submit their construction logbook for consideration.”
In concluding the meeting, Dung said “The quality of the dam must be re-assessed. I request that concerned agencies identify the cause of the dam break soon.”
The plant, which was built in late 2009 on an area of 147 hectares, is expected to begin generating electricity in the third quarter of this year.
It has a design capacity of 5.5 MW and a life expectancy of 45 years.