Unfinished dam breaks in central Vietnam, floods fields

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 Water flows from Dakrong 3 dam in Quang Tri Province after it broke on October 7.

Authorities in the central province of Quang Tri visited a hydropower plant site Saturday after the investor finally admitted that its dam broke a week ago, flooding local fields.

Truong Son Hydropower JSC, the project investor, said the accident happened on October 7 while it was experimenting with water storage. It said construction at part of the dam was not finished and torrential rains from typhoon Gaemi, which hit the region that same night, added to the problem.

The breached part was 20 meters long.

No casualties were caused but the damage to the dam and local fields has been estimated at around VND20 billion (US$956,000), the company said.

The Dakrong 3 hydropower plant started storing water for operation on September 25, with a planned capacity of eight megawatts. Construction was started in August 2010 and cost VND210 billion ($10 million).

The company has made no repair efforts and large pieces of broken concrete are still scattered around. Water is flowing heavily to downstream areas.

Hai said the repair needs at least 20 days, but with regular rain at this time, the company can only start fixing the problem next month.

Water from the dam swept away tens of tons of cassava and other vegetables in nearby fields.

Ho Nha, a commune official who lives around ten kilometers from the dam, told Tuoi Tre ,"It just took several minutes for water (in the downstream areas) to rise several meters."

Local officials said the dam stored water before compensating displaced families.

A Tuoi Tre reported cited director Nguyen Thanh Hai as saying he did not want to wait a further three months until the monsoon passes to start storing water.

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Authorities said they would force the company to pay families that have to relocate from the area and those affected by the dam's flood.

However, no punitive measures have been initiated against the company.

The dam is one of four located on a river more than 60 kilometers long. Two of these are under construction.

It is also one of around 40 small-scale plants in central Vietnam, defined as those with capacity lower than 30 megawatts.

Quang Nam Province, which has 44 and most hydropower plants in the region, recently canceled two small projects with officials saying they do not help much and cause too much damage.

Central Vietnam has the largest number of hydropower plants in the country at around 200.

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