2 December 2012
Police in Cambodia say four workers building a dam in the country's west have been swept away by floods. According to Veal Veng district police chief Theang Leng, the incident occurred on Saturday afternoon, apparently after heavy water pressure caused part of the Stung Atay dam's reservoir to collapse.
"Four people are missing. We fear they have drowned but this is not sure yet," he told the AFP news agency, adding that a search was ongoing.
Construction activity at the dam site on the Atay river in Pursat province had been halted.
Seven other Cambodian workers were injured in the incident, with many of them suffering broken bones, Theang said.
The construction of the 120 megawatt Stung Atay hydropower dam began in 2008 and is scheduled to be completed in May 2013.
The $255 million project is being developed by China's state-owned Datang Corporation.
Only around a quarter of households in impoverished Cambodia currently have access to reliable electricity.
To boost its energy output, the power-starved country has set its sights on a number of big hydropower projects, despite concerns about their impact on river-dependent communities and on the environment.
Cambodia late last year opened the country's largest hydroelectric dam to date, a more than $280 million Chinese-funded project that has attracted criticism from environmental groups.
Nine dams are set to be completed by 2019 and once they are all operational the government says they will generate 2,045 megawatts of power, serving all of Cambodia's provinces.