Thailand monks save ancient Buddhist texts from floodwaters

CBS, Oct 16, 2011

AYUTTHAYA, Thailand -- Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, a monk university in Ayutthaya, Thailand was swamped by floodwaters.

Buddhist monks raced against rising floodwaters to keep Buddhist Tripitaka, books containing Buddhist texts, dry and above water.

Monks waded in floods and formed a line on the steps of the university to transfer the books, wrapped in paper.

"The books are priceless because it is the heart of Buddhism," said the university's Assistant Professor Siriwat Srikhruedong.

The Tripitaka represent Buddha's teachings from more than 2500 years ago, held sacred by Buddhists.

Several books have already been damaged, as water levels of at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) inundated the university, known to be a centre for Asian monks.

Half of around 90,000 Buddhist books kept in a room has been damaged by the floods.

Relief goods such as bottled water were also distributed to flood affected communities.

At least 283 people in Thailand have been killed by heavy monsoon rain, floods and mudslides since late July and 26 of Thailand's 77 provinces are inundated, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said on Thursday.

More than 2 million people are estimated to have been affected by the floods which has covered about a third of the country.