Over the past 30 days, two tropical storms have inundated many parts of the country, with floods causing the temporary closure of tourist sites and partially submerging Vientiane’s new Nakharath City shopping centre in the Mekong Riverside’s Chao Anouvong Park.
Attapeu Provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department official, Bounthong Bouphasavanh, told the Vientiane Times that the Xe Pha and Xe Ponglay Waterfalls were currently inaccessible due to thick mud covering the road.
The heavy rains have also cut off roads to some attractions in Khammouane Province. Popular Konglor Cave is temporarily closed as a precaution, according to provincial official Bounthavy Sisombath. “Authorities have closed it for safety reasons but will open it when the water level drops. Officials are monitoring the water level and will announce when it is safe for visitors.”
In Oudomxay Province, Thalae Waterfall and Tham Chom Ong Cave are temporarily closed. “It’s common for authorities to temporarily close some tourist sites in the rainy season, especially caves, waterfalls and national protected areas, because access roads are in poor condition and can be dangerous,” provincial official Bounkuan Mitmeuangxay told the Vientiane Times. “But most other places of interest are open as they are located in towns.”
In spite of the widespread rainfall and flooding, most of the nation’s tourist attractions remain open, including those in Luang Prabang and Savannakhet, according to local authorities.
However, rapidly rising water levels in the Mekong are beginning to cause havoc at riverside destinations. Yesterday at around 06:00, the river overflowed the retaining wall at the newly opened Nakharath City shopping centre in Vientiane’s Chao Anouvong Park.
Meanwhile, provinces in other at-risk areas were alerted, and officials began monitoring the Mekong’s water level, especially in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakxan District in Bolikhamxay province, Thakaek in Khammouane, and Pakse in Champasak.
According to the Meteorology and Hydrology Department, the level of the Mekong in Vientiane reached 11.20 metres by Sunday afternoon, while the warning level is 11.50 metres, with the danger level at 12.50 metres.
The level of the Mekong reported yesterday morning in Pakse was above the warning level of 11 metres and had risen to 11.70 metres, not far off the danger level of 12 metres.
Elsewhere, the authorities are warning people living near the Nam Ngum and Xe Bangfai Rivers to move their belongings to higher ground and pay close attention to weather forecasts and emergency announcements.
By Siladda Souliyong and Sisay Vilaysack
Source: Vientiane Times