Laos Has Not Restricted Foreign Media in Attapeu
A little more than a week has passed since the collapse of Saddle Dam D at the Xe-Pian Xe-Nam Noy Dam on July 23, and rescuers continue to search for victims of the disaster, while aid has flooded in both domestically and from abroad.
News of the incident has been widely reported by Lao state media as well as international media, and coverage by Thai news agencies has been particularly extensive.
During the initial confusion following the disaster, some news sources made claims that foreign media were denied access to the site, saying visas were refused or reporters were turned away.
Media visas were initially unable to be issued during the uncertainty following the incident and when the extent of the danger remained unknown. By the 27th of July, however, a registration zone had been set up in Sanamxay District where members of the press, both Lao and foreign, could register and receive a press pass.
Thai Channel 3 reporter, Ms Thapanee Letsrichai, released a video on YouTube explaining that foreign media had been granted full access to the disaster area in Attapeu, and were being registered on site. In her video, Ms Thapanee mentions a simple registration process involving verification of a press ID and passport. She goes on to say that no fees were required as part of this process.
The Lao PDR offers an M-B2 visa type, which is provided to foreign journalists who wish to cover events in Laos. Applications for the M-B2 visa can be made at a Lao consulate abroad or on arrival in Laos. More information can be found at the Lao Department of Immigration website.