Southern residents say leaking dam a disaster waiting to happen

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The 255,000-cubic-meter reservoir in An Giang Province. Photo credit: VnExpress The 255,000-cubic-meter reservoir in An Giang Province. Photo credit: VnExpress

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Authorities in An Giang Province in southern Vietnam have brushed off safety concerns about a dam, even after locals pointed to multiple leaks that they feared could lead to a sudden, devastating collapse. 
The government-funded dam was built between 2011 and 2014 by a Vietnamese construction company, at a cost of VND45 billion (US$2 million).
It is designed to hold back 255,000 cubic meters of water for Thanh Long Reservoir built against a mountain side. The reservoir, around 400 meters above the ground, serves nearly 90 families living on the top of the mountain, tourists and supplies water for firefighting during the dry season.
According to local media reports, cracks and leaks have become visible recently and around a thousand families living at the foot of the mountain are very worried about a flooding disaster, if the dam gives in to high water pressure. 
The province’s agriculture department tried to allay such concerns in a statement Tuesday. The Vietnam News Agency cited its director Tran Anh Thu as saying that the dam is safe and claims suggesting otherwise are "inaccurate."
His deputy Lu Cam Khuong said water was overflowing due to heavy rain in the past flew days, but “that's normal.”
Cement is used to cover the leaks at the dam. Photo credit: VnExpress
An Giang agriculture department said it had already spent VND6.5 billion fixing the leaks and the repair work finished in April. It said the dam is just running on a trial basis now.
But locals said they do not feel safe at all, pointing out that the leaks were covered up by cement, instead of being fixed. 
Ly Son Dang, a father, said: “Children walk past the reservoir every day to go to school. If anything bad happens, nobody will be able to run.”

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