Perched on the Mekong River, this Vietnamese community is living in constant fear, fear that their homes might collapse at any moment. It only took minutes for Tati Kimon's house to come crumbling down in the dead of night.>> There used to be a bedroom, a kitchen, then another two meters to the water.
It's collapsed into the river now, all lost.>> The culprit behind these collapses is erosion triggered by damming and a hunger for sand. According to an expert, the problem began when China build its first hydro power plants in the upper Mekong Basin. The Mekong River stretches 2,700 miles from China along Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, through Cambodia, and finally Vietnam.
Over the years, there's been a lot of upstream damming in Cambodia, Laos, and China, along with extensive mining of the riverbed for sand. Experts say that's causing the river to sink at a pace of almost one inch per year. Reuters's Mai Nguyen has been investigating.>> So in Vietnam there is a growing demand for sand to feed into the construction industry, which is expanding massively.
And people have been taking more sand from the river, and that has caused the current to be stronger and eat into the land and making people's houses collapse.>> Environmental groups have pressured the government, sparking a ban on all Cambodian sand exports in 2017. But projects within the country have continued.
Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen opened an $816 million hydroelectric dam built by companies from China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It'll be the biggest in the country, and environmental groups warn that it'll have a catastrophic impact on fisheries and biodiversity in the Mekong River. That's little comfort for the people living by the river.
>> My ancestors have lived here for decades, and nothing happened to them. But I am so afraid, I can't sleep at night.>> The most they can do for now is pick up the pieces of their destroyed homes.