Local monks tour area hit by tsunami

By Jason Kosareff , SGV Tribune Staff Writer, March 28, 2005

ROSEMEAD, CA (USA) -- Two monks returned from Sri Lanka on Monday with reports that tsunami devastation is still widespread in coastal regions of that country.

"It's still devastated, but some areas are cleared, I'd say 20 to 30 percent.' said Venerable Bhante Chao Chu of the Rosemead Buddhist Monastery. "Some of the old foundations are being used to rebuild houses and some of the houses are built new, though not many of the houses have been rebuilt.'

Chu and his disciple Venerable William Edwards of Jefferson City, Mo., left for Sri Lanka on March 16 to attend a global conference in Sri Lanka's capital of Colombo and tour the areas devastated by the Dec. 26 tsunamis.

"There's a lot of devastation, a lot of people still living in tents and in schools and temples,' Edwards said. "The bad thing is the monsoon season is coming up and these people don't have permanent housing. It's going to be a second disaster.'

The Dec. 26 quake and the tsunamis it triggered killed at least 175,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean nations and left another 106,000 missing, according to the Associated Press. Monday's aftershock off Indonesia did not affect Sri Lanka, AP said.

The monastery raised about $50,000 in January to aid Sri Lankan victims.

Chu said much of the material supplies sent to Sri Lanka are still waylaid in ports and have not yet cleared customs. Chu observed shipping containers from the San Gabriel Valley still stalled at wharves, not yet cleared at customs.

"The relief aid didn't go that far,' Chu said. "Most of the people did not receive much of the aid that was raised abroad.'