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China Hydropower Dams in Mekong River Give Shocks to 60 Million

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The Mekong River sparkles in the early morning sun as Somwang Prommin, a stocky fisherman wearing a worn-out black T-shirt and shorts, starts the motor of his boat. As the tiny craft glides on the river’s calm surface in the northeastern Thai district of Chiang Khong, Somwang points to a nearby riverbank. Three days ago, he says, the water levels there were 3 meters (10 feet) higher.

The Mekong, which translates roughly as “mother of the waters” in the Thai language, has become unpredictable since China started building hydropower dams and blasting the rapids upstream, says Somwang, 36, who’s been fishing for a living since he was 8.