Hundreds of southern schools closed after widespread flooding

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Many schools in the nation’s south have been closed temporarily following floods caused by Tropical Storm Podul which damaged infrastructure including school buildings.

A large number of students are still waiting to take their classes while local officials speed up efforts to repair affected school buildings and provide new educational materials.

Saravan is one of the hardest-hit provinces with a total of 194 schools in Saravan, Vapy and Khongxedon districts flooded from 2-6 September, the first week of the new school year across the country.

An official in charge of Education and Sports Department in Saravan province yesterday told Vientiane Times that most of the 194 schools in flood-affected districts are still closed and officials can’t confirm when they will reopen.

Local authorities are now assisting the flooded communities with options including temporary classrooms for students to ensure their studies can get underway.

According to a report by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, a total of 172 state and private schools were impacted after heavy rainfall over several hours caused flash flooding in Savannakhet province.

Schools in 10 districts across the Savannakhet province still are not operating normally, and many remain under floodwater while others are awaiting repairs, a provincial official said.

In addition, school buildings and educational equipment were also hit hard by the recent heavy rains in Champassak, Xekong, Khammuan and Attapeu provinces.

The rainstorms not only damaged school buildings, but the resulting flash flooding also inundated households, hospitals, roads, reservoirs, bridges and farmlands, and affected livestock.

According to a report by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, more than 175,000 households in 1,466 villages of 43 districts in the provinces of Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan, Champassak, Xekong and Attapeu were affected by Tropical Storm Podul.

More than 14,000 households were moved to safe places, and they are now in need of food, drinking water, healthcare, while some provinces need boats with boatmen.

The ministry is also mobilising funding and essential supplies and is calling on state organisations and private businesses to assist the flood victims. Those who would like to help should call 021 213 005.

Floodwaters submerged more than 151,000 hectares of farmland, 251 hectares of vegetable plots, and 3,266 fish ponds.

More than 252 km of roads were affected by the floods. However, work crews of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport are speeding up emergency road repairs to assist the delivery of disaster assistance to affected communities.