Damage to relics to be assessed

UPI, April 20, 2010

BEIJING, China -- Chinese officials say they've called for an assessment of damage to historic relics in the earthquake-hit Yushu County, a mostly ethnic Tibetan region.

The assessment in the county in northwest Qinghai province is needed to draw up plans for restoration of Buddhist and other relics, China Daily reported.

The province's culture department and the county government would set up a team to assess the damage. Last week's earthquake, besides taking a heavy human toll, also seriously damaged historical and cultural sites in the region, the report said.

Among the sites damaged was the Xinzhai Mani Pagoda, a national cultural heritage site, which was 40 percent destroyed. The rest of it is in danger of collapsing, officials said.

The Gyanak Mani Stone Mound in Yushu County, the world's largest Mani stone pile, also collapsed in the earthquake. These stone plates and rocks are inscribed with Lamaist mantra prayers or other sacred symbols of Tibetan Buddhism.

Kunga, a "Living Buddha" from a neighboring county who is now in Yushu to provide spiritual comfort to the survivors, said: "Tibetan Buddhism should be a vital component in the mental recovery of the victims," China Daily reported.

The New York Times reported earlier dozens of Tibetan Buddhist monks, who traveled long distances to come to the quake-affected region, are being allowed to work with rescuers in relief operations.

Even though their work remains uncoordinated, the monks are accepted and tolerated by Chinese Communist authorities despite tense Chinese-Tibetan relations. China took control of Tibet in 1950.