Construction Tragedy: Dam Construction Worker Killed in Vietnam

A US$9.51 million project had to be halted in Vietnam where a worker was killed after part of a dam being constructed, collapsed.  The incident occurred in the Central Highlands province, Kon Tum last week claiming the life of a driver who was driving by at the time.

A portion of the dam wall collapsed due to the weight of rock that it had to withstand, according to a spokesperson. This incident highlights the issue of not rushing during construction and ensuring that walls are structurally competent to handle the loads they will be withstanding.

A Vietnamese news agency, Thanhnien News posted this on their

Speaking to the press earlier this week, Bui Van Cu, vice director of Kon Tum Department of Industry and Trade, said they regard incident at the DakMek 3 Hydropower Plant as “serious” and proposed that related agencies conduct quality inspections.


Part of the dam in DakChoong Commune, DakGlei District, suddenly broke on November 22, crushing Nguyen Viet Hung to death. The 28-year-old worker was driving by when the collapse occurred.


The collapsed segment was estimated to be 80 meters long, 20 meters high and 1.5 meters thick, according a report issued by project’s contractor, the Hong Phat Mechanics and Construction Company.


Speaking to Vietweek, Le Ba Thanh, director of the project’s investor, the Hong PhatDakMek Hydropower Company, the dam failed because it could not withstand the large amount of rock, estimated at 700 cubic meters, which was poured on it during the height of construction.


But he also said that they are still waiting for the official conclusions from related agencies.


Earlier, Thanh was quoted by TuoiTre (Youth) newspaper as saying that the dam was damaged by a dump truck that crashed into its body.


“We guaranteed that the dam was built with quality and in accordance with the design,” he said, acknowledging that the contractor was their member company.


However, in an interview with the newspaper, Le Van Thinh,chief of the National Agency for Construction Work’s Quality Assessment, ruled out the possibility that a crash by a truck, despite weighing 60 tons as claimed by the investor, could have caused the fatal incident.


The design of a dam had to be made with considerations about sudden pressures that could be caused by trucks colliding with the dam during construction, he said.



Workers involved in the construction project claimed that they had seen cracks occurring in the dam wall which would indicate structural problems. A dam wall is meant to withhold enormous amounts of water and so they should be thick and strong enough. The fact that this wall collapsed during the construction stage although it was tragic and resulted in  the loss of a life, it would have been even more disastrous if the dam wall had collapsed at a later stage after the dam was in operation. Although the company involved blamed the incident on poor quality building materials it is more likely weak points can be found in the planning and design stages.

Read what the post went on to state:

According to Thinh, cracks could be caused  by poor quality concrete or a faulty foundation.


Nguyen Bo, director of Kon Tum Department of Industry and Trade, told Vietweek that the investor did not report the accident to the department until three days later.


Such accidents are supposed to be reported  to district authorities and the Ministry of Construction within 24 hours, Thinh said.


Construction on the dam got underway in March 2009 and some 80 percent of the work  had been completed at the time of the collapse, according to Thanh.



Workers should check the stability of structures during every stage of its construction.This can be done by installing lateral supports to make the building more sturdy. There may be a need for lateral or temporary supports when erecting a wall, building or structure.

Another factor that may help are exclusion zones that keep unauthorised people out of the dangerous area where collapse may occur. This will prevent passers-by from being injured if the structure does collapse.