14 October 2020

A double tragedy: two landslides close to the construction site of the Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant in Vietnam

Posted by Dave Petley

A double tragedy: two landslides close to the construction site of the Rao Trang 3 hydroelectric plant in Vietnam

Heavy rainfall has triggered landslides across a swathe of Vietnam in the last few days.  The most notable event occurred on Monday at the construction site of the  Rao Trang 3 hydroelectric plant, which located close to Phong uan commune in Phong Dien District, Thua Thien-Hue Province.  Reports suggest that between 10 and 17 people were buried by the landslide, but information is extremely sketchy because of many other landslides in the area.  Reports suggest that the alarm was raised by a local person, who climbed a mountain to make the call.  That person has been out of contact since.

On Monday a rescue team of 21 people was dispatched to the site.  At 11 pm they found that their progress was blocked by landslides on the road, and so they stopped at a rangers station for the night.  Unfortunately, during the night a further landslide occurred, hitting accommodation for 13 of the rescue team.  They have not been seen since.

Further rescue teams were dispatched on Tuesday, but at the time of writing the picture remains very unclear.

The location of this landslide is not been provided, but some Vietnam press reports seem to indicate that it is the set of hydropower schemes that can be seen on the river at (and upstream of) 16.409, 107.250:-

Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant

The reported site of the Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant, via Google Earth. There is no confirmation as yet that this site is the actual location of the landslides.


I have highlighted previously the unacceptable rate of fatal landslides associated with hydropower projects, especially in Asia.  This is on top of a wide landslide problem in these projects, which causes extreme levels of economic loss.  I have no sense that the industry is getting on top of this problem.