It is the middle of winter in the Mekong region; however, throughout December, floods have brought havoc to communities along the Mekong River. From the Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai province in Northern Thailand downward, the water level in the Mekong has risen rapidly. The flooding was most intense along the Thailand-Lao border from the Golden Triangle toward Khong Chiam, Ubonratchathani. It is unprecedented to experience such flooding in the Mekong during wintertime.
Flooding was particularly bad in Chiang Saen District around Sob Kok, the delta plain in the Kok River where it meets the Mekong. In just one morning, the flooding damaged a large plantation owned by local villagers. Water from the Mekong River suddenly spilled over the banks causing levels of water tens of centimeters high to flood the area; corn, tobacco, bean and other vegetables vanished in the blink of an eye.
On December 19, The Vientiane Times reported that construction on the Xayaburi Dam was halted as the Mekong River rose, flooding the site. The Xayaburi Power Company – owner of the US$3.5 billion hydropower project – announced that “work on the dam’s spillway had to stop when water flowed over the temporary barriers and lower parts of the area were submerged.”