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China quake leaves 8,000 monks homeless: State media

Last Updated: Monday, April 26, 2010 - 15:38

Beijing: The quake in China`s remote northwest has left more than 8,000 monks homeless after damaging nearly 90 monasteries, state media said on Monday, as the focus of relief work moved onto resettling survivors.

Authorities in the province of Qinghai said repairing monasteries would be a priority in reconstruction efforts, the state-run China Daily said, nearly two weeks after the 6.9-magnitude earthquake, which killed over 2,200 people.

"By the end of this year, we hope to restore the living quarters of the monasteries for more than 8,000 monks now living in makeshift tents," Leshi, head of Yushu`s ethnic and religious affairs committee, was quoted as saying.

More than 23,000 monks and lamas live in hundreds of monasteries in Yushu, a rugged prefecture that sits at an average altitude of 4,000 metres (over 13,000 feet) on the Tibetan plateau.

They played a key role in search and rescue efforts in the region, sifting through rubble for survivors, distributing much-needed food and supplies, and cremating hundreds of bodies to prevent disease.

Many came to help from neighbouring areas but were later urged to go home in what activists said was government unease over their influence in a restive area. Authorities said the move was to avoid hindering relief work.

Yushu was hit by violent riots that began in March 2008 in the Tibetan capital Lhasa after four days of peaceful protests by monks and later swept across the Tibetan plateau.

According to the report, 84 monks were killed in the quake and at least 100 were among the more than 12,000 injured.

Leshi further promised that as well as being fixed, the monasteries would also be upgraded to include running water, electricity and Internet access within two to three years.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, April 26, 2010 - 15:38
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