Spurious construction called dam collapse in central Vietnam

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A section of the Dak Mek 3 dam under construction in Kon Tum Province collapsed on November 22, crushing a truck driver standing nearby to death.

Authorities in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum said the section of a dam that collapsed and killed a man last week had not been built properly, with the investor including soil and rock in constructing the wall instead of just concrete.

The investor of the Dak Mek 3 hydropower plant, Hong Phat Mechanics and Construction Company, was not present at the press briefing held Thursday by the provincial administration to explain the accident.

Sixty meters of the 80-meter dam collapsed on November 22, killing a truck driver standing nearby.

Dang Thanh Long, chief of the office of the provincial People's Committee, said the dam construction had not followed the design, adding that the entire structure was thinner than it was supposed to be.

He repeated that the dam had to be of solid concrete, but the investor had used soil and rock, making the structure weaker.

He said the province has temporarily suspended the project and asked its investor to identify the persons responsible as well as hire a more capable supervisor to avoid similar incidents.

Local police have been asked to investigate the death of the truck driver, he added.

Long also criticized the investor for failing to report the accident within a day after it happened as regulated.

It had instead waited three days to inform local authorities on Monday, and also did so only after local media had found out and reported the accident.

Director Le Ba Thanh of the company then came up with different explanations. 


He told Tuoi Tre a truck carrying rocks had hit the dam and caused a series of collisions.

Then he told Thanh Nien the dam failed to withstand a large amount of rock - about 700 cubic meters - poured upon it at the time.

Thanh's company had asked to invest in a series of three dams in the province, but only received approval for one with a budget of VND200 billion (US$9.51 million).

Construction of the dam began in March 2009 and some 80 percent of the work had been completed at the time of the collapse, Thanh said.

The dam was scheduled to start operating in the first quarter next year with an expected output of 7.5 megawatts and a reservoir capacity of 1.7 million cubic meters.

It was one of 40 "small" hydropower dams built or being built in central Vietnam. Dams with a generation capacity of less than 30 MW are considered small.

Quang Binh and Quang Ngai provinces have canceled several such dams, saying they would help little but cause as much damage as the big ones to the environment and people's livelihoods.

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