Last week, a catastrophe occurred in Southern Laos displacing more than 6000 people in hours. A newly constructed dam collapsed under immense pressure from heavy monsoon rains. Nearly 5 billion cubic meters of water were released. This torrent of water and mud has swallowed entire villages, demolished roads, and drenched food sources – devastating lives.
Today, thousands are still stranded, hundreds are missing and more than 30 confirmed dead. Sadly, it seems this could have been averted. According to the country’s Minister of Energy and Mines, “substandard construction” caused the collapse. Even as they continue working around the clock to rescue people and recover bodies, additional concerns have arisen. During the Vietnam war, millions of tons of cluster bombs were dropped on Southern Laos, particularly in this province. Nearly a third of those bombs never exploded but lay dormant underground for years. There are now serious concerns that these floods uncovered and shifted many of these unexploded ordinances, potentially magnifying the consequences of this flood and putting more lives in danger.
For believers in the area, the challenges are even greater. Reports are surfacing that Christians in districts are facing persecution from the authorities in the midst of the relief effort. In one situation, blankets and water were being distributed and the local authorities created two lines, one line for Christians and another line for non-Christians. The local authorities told those in the Christian line that they must turn away from their belief in Jesus to receive help.
Our partner on the ground is already working together with local leaders, churches and authorities to bring relief, emergency help and encouragement to Christians and non-Christians alike. Please pray for those families impacted by this recent devastation, for those leading the relief efforts and for the future development of this area. To join in partnership with us in bringing relief to those in need, please give via our secure donation form.