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Hundreds dead, thousands displaced – Laos dam bust.

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Hundreds dead, thousands displaced – Laos dam bust. | The Thaiger

(5 minute read)

The heavy rains in northern, north-eastern Thailand and southern Laos have caused a partially man-made disaster affecting hundreds of Loas homes with hundreds of people still missing.

Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes in Laos’ southern Attapeu province following the collapse of part of a hydroelectric dam under construction.

The disaster came hours after an official of the construction firm warned of imminent danger.

One of five saddle dams supporting the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy Dam collapsed at 8pm on Monday, releasing 5 billion cubic metres of water. Houses in Attapeu’s southern Sanamxay district were swept away, claiming lives, and several hundred people were missing, according to the state-run Lao News Agency.

Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith suspended his monthly cabinet meeting and led senior government officials to Sanamxay to monitor rescue and relief efforts.

The collapse of the support dam caused flash flooding in six Sanamxay villages – Yai Thae, Hinlad, Mai, Thasengchan, Tha Hin and Samong. Hinlad and Mai were particularly hard hit. Pictures and videos shown on state-run and social media showed the chaotic evacuation of people from inundated areas. Many people were seen clinging to the roofs of their houses, surrounded by water.

Hundreds dead, thousands displaced - Laos dam bust. | News by The Thaiger

There are claims on social media of many people dead and missing but no official reports at this stage.
Authorities in Attapeu are pleading for agencies to provide emergency aid for the victims, including clothing, food, drinking water and medicine. Attapeu Planning and Investment Department Director Soulichanh Phonkeo told the Vientiane Times newspaper that some victims were washed away in the torrent, but many managed to grab tree branches and wait for rescue.

“We need a large number of boats to rescue them from the danger area,” he said.

An official of Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Co (PNPC) had on Monday issued a warning of danger at the dam. In a letter, the company’s head of resettlement, Lee Kan Yeol, told colleagues in Champasak and Attapeu provinces that, “Saddle Dam D is not safe and is in very dangerous condition” due to heavy rainfall. He advised that the saddle dam’s failure would unleash five billion tonnes of water into the Xe Pian River basin. Lee said people living along the river downstream should be moved to higher ground to avoid an “unfortunate accident” if the heavy rain caused one.

Pianporn Deetes of the conservation group International Rivers said there were major risks with dams that are not designed to cope with extreme weather conditions such as very heavy rain. And unpredictable extreme weather events are becoming more frequent in the region due to climate change, she said.

“This disaster also shows the inadequacy of warning systems for the dam construction and operations. The warning appears to have to come very late and was ineffective in giving people advance notice to ensure their families’ safety,”” said Pianporn.

Hundreds dead, thousands displaced - Laos dam bust. | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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ASEAN

China has the most atheists, Indonesia and Philippines the most believers

The Thaiger

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China has the most atheists, Indonesia and Philippines the most believers | The Thaiger

“According to the survey there is a connection between religiosity, beliefs and socio-demographic characteristics like age, income and education level.”

China is the least believing country in the world but belief in a God gets 100% mention in countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and Philippines, according to the survey by Gallup International.

According to the survey exploring religious tendencies of 66,000 people in 68 countries across the world, 62 per cent of people in the world define themselves as religious, 74% of people globally believe we have a ‘soul’ and 71% believe in a God. Another 56% believe in heaven, 54% in life after death and 49% in hell.

China has the highest percentage of atheists in the world with 67% not believing in any religion. Every seven out ten people are atheists, more than double than any other country. 23% consider themselves as non-religious. Less than 10% identify themselves as religious in China.

China’s atheist percentage is followed by Japan, a long way behind in second place at 29%, Slovenia (28%) and Chech Republic (25%). Despite rapid industrialisation and urbanisation religion has stayed relevant in the South Korean region with only 23% identifying as atheist.

China has the most atheists, Indonesia and Philippines the most believers | News by The Thaiger

European countries like Belgium (21 %), France (21%) , Sweden (18%) and Iceland (17%) also have a large percentage of believing population.

Bangladesh, Indonesia and Philippines are the most believing countries with entire population claiming to believe in God, soul, hell and heaven. Thailand and Pakistan have 99% believing population, followed by India, Vietnam and Mongolia.

The survey shows that the levels of religiosity diminish as income and education levels increase. While 66% of people with low income affirm to be religious, this percentage drops to 50% among people with higher incomes. The same trend is verified in relation to education levels: 83% of people with lower education level are religious against 49% of higher level.

According to the survey there is a connection between religiosity, beliefs and socio-demographic characteristics like age, income and education level. As education and income levels grow higher, religiosity levels tend to go down. Also, the expression of different beliefs is higher among young people.

The level of education has a considerable influence on the perception of religion by the society. Women and young children show higher percentage for spiritual forces.

China has the most atheists, Indonesia and Philippines the most believers | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Data Leads

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Philippines

Powerful 6.4 earthquake kills five in the Philippines

May Taylor

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Powerful 6.4 earthquake kills five in the Philippines | The Thaiger

PHOTO: AFP

A strong 6.4 magnitude earthquake has struck the southern Philippines, killing five, including one child, destroying property and disrupting power supply. The death toll is expected to rise.

The powerful quake was felt across the Mindanao region, even causing a 3-storey shopping mall to burst into flames. Residents were evacuated and a child was killed when a house collapsed in the town of Datu Paglas.

AFP reports that the quake was 14 kilometres deep and followed by two aftershocks. The Philippines is part of the “Ring of Fire”, a zone of constant seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific.

Several injuries have been reported as a result of falling debris. The shopping mall that caught fire was evacuated when the quake struck, but it’s not yet known if there were still people inside as the fire took hold.

The mall was still on fire three hours later as nearly 100 firemen battled to put it out.

Residents on the coast in Davao fled to higher ground fearing a tsunami, even though a government seismologist reassured people there was no tsunami risk as the quake had occurred inland.

It’s understood that prisoners in the municipal jail in the town of Bansalan were also let out, but placed in handcuffs and held outside for the duration of the evacuation.

SOURCE: AFP

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Myanmar

Burmese surfing team head to SEAsia Games, a first for Myanmar

The Thaiger

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Burmese surfing team head to SEAsia Games, a first for Myanmar | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Burmese surfer Thwe Thwe Soe practicing off the coast of Ngwe Saung – Myanmore

Paddling hard and smiling, Thwe Thwe Soe flung herself up on the board just as a wave was breaking, spreading her arms out for balance before getting knocked off.

“I can’t live without surfing. I did not expect to be chosen for the national team but I’m thrilled at the opportunity.”

Thwe Thwe Soe was speaking after a day in the blue waters off the small coastal resort town of Ngwe Saung. Competitive surfing was barely known in Myanmar a few years ago but one local beach town is riding a wave of enthusiasm to the Southeast Asia Games for the first time ever.

The Southeast Asian country is flanked by surf-ready coasts to the west and south, but decades of military rule, lack of equipment and poverty kept aspiring athletes from testing the waters. The 25 year old encountered the sport while studying in southern California and has been hooked since, saying she “always feels happy” on the water.

Now she is going up against the region’s giants at the December games in the Philippines. Thwe Thwe Soe has one of the best chances to medal among the handful of surfers going, but all are training hard.

“We surf for at least four to six hours a day,” said American coach Robert Brickell, a 26 year old originally from New York.

The mild waves at Ngwe Saung present a paradox for competitive surfers – they are good to learn on but much tamer than the conditions in surfing hotspots. The team went to Bali in Indonesia for two months to get used to some “big wave surfing” and have made enormous strides in a short amount of time, Brickell said.

“My hope is that we can show everybody that people from Myanmar, we know how to surf, we know how to respect the ocean. And of course our hope is to win some meets.”

The Surf Association of Myanmar was established only this year. The sport is slowly gaining prominence thanks to the impassioned surfers, most from a village near the beach and newcomers themselves. Ngwe Saung is the heartland of the growing craze and has now hosted several competitions.

“We hadn’t heard of surfing before 2017. It will be a difficult competition but we will do our best for sure.” said 19 year old Aung Min Naing.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

Burmese surfing team head to SEAsia Games, a first for Myanmar | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Aspiring new Burmese surfer, Aung Min Naing – MMTimes.com

Burmese surfing team head to SEAsia Games, a first for Myanmar | News by The Thaiger

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