Four people went missing on Tuesday afternoon after a flash flood cascaded without warning through villages in mountainous Nan district, Luang Prabang province.
Nine houses disappeared and 24 others were affected by the torrent of water and the mud it left in its wake. Most of the damage occurred in Fai village.
Villagers help each other to move furniture from their house after mud poured
down a hillside from a forested area into the village.
Luang Prabang authorities said they feared all of the four missing people had died after finding two bodies yesterday.
Director of the provincial National Resources and Environment Department, Mr Chanthavong Phonnachith, told Vientiane Times the authorities and soldiers were searching for the two remaining people.
They are scouring an area that is a sea of mud after the cascade poured down a hillside in a forested area.
Flash floods normally occur after heavy rain but no rain fell in the area on Tuesday and no one suspected there would be a sudden surge of water.
Flash floods may take minutes or hours to develop. It is possible to experience a flash flood without witnessing any rain. In this case, however, there would have been heavy rain in areas upstream of the flood.
“The large amount of muddy water that burst from the ground at the top of the Hien waterfall looked like a volcano had exploded,” Mr Chanthavong said.
The waterfall was broken up after the floodwater surged through.
Some people said they heard a sound like a bomb exploding near to the waterfall. Then water carrying large quantities of mud and trees gushed violently down the hillside.
One man said he and his family visited Hien waterfall on Monday. They were surprised when they walked up to the falls because there was almost no water, even though the rainy season has not yet ended.
When they heard news of the flash flood the next day, they felt themselves to be very fortunate and were thankful they had not been in the area at that time. Some people laid the blame for the sudden deluge on the felling of a large number of big trees in the area.
Last month, one person reportedly died in floods that occurred when a river burst its banks in another part of the country, while last year more than 90,000 people suffered losses and three people died during rainy season flooding.