At least 200 deaths in 1,000 quake-flattened monasteries

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu
At least 200 deaths in 1,000 quake-flattened monasteries

May 21, 2015-

An estimated 200 Buddhist nuns and monks died after more than 1,000 monasteries collapsed in the 14 districts hit hardest by the earthquakes, according to the Buddhist Philosophy Promotion and Monastery Development Committee (BPPMDC).

The committee, under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, said that all 215 monasteries in Sindhupalchok district were flattened by the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks. Six monks have been reported dead in the district so far.

A total of 150 Buddhist monasteries collapsed in Gorkha, 105 in Dhading, 60 in Rasuwa and 60 in Solukhumbu. There are reports of them destroyed in Nuwakot, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga, Makwanpur, Lamjung and Syangja as well. “What we have is a preliminary report of damages caused by the quake,” said Bhadra Bahadur Golay, under-secretary at the BPPMDC.

The devastating earthquake has destroyed many well-known monasteries including Seto Gumba in Ramkot; Rato Gumba in Sitapaila; Khumchey Gumba in Gorkha; Chrighyang  Gumba in Dolakha and Chirite Gumba in Sindhupalchok.

Karma Tsering Tashi Lama, president of the BPPMDC who recently visited many of the earthquake-affected areas in Sindhupalchok and Rasuwa with an inspection team, said he did not see a monastery that stands straight. “The monasteries we visited had either fallen or were on the verge of collapse,” said Lama. “Of those that remain, there is eerie silence.”

With the collapse of monasteries along with their houses in the area, most Buddhist disciples said they feel helpless. “If only the monastery had remained, people would have gone to pray for the departed souls,” said Udar Man Tamang, 37, of Baskharka Village Development Committee. All the eight monasteries in the VDCs have been destroyed by the quake. “People here have nowhere to go,” he said.

The Buddhist committee said it has deployed teams to the districts for a survey of the monasteries. The teams have been collecting the details of destruction in coordination with the local authorities.

“Since monasteries are often built on hilltops, landslide has cut off the way for rescue,” said Lama.

A total of 2,200 monasteries have been registered with the committee but officials say there are about 5,000 in the country.

“The death toll could rise as we have been collecting data only from the registered monasteries,” said Lama.

Fallen monasteries

-    150 in Gorkha, 105 in Dhading, 60 in Rasuwa and 60 in Solukhumbu

-    Seto Gumba in Ramkot, Rato Gumba in Sitapaila, Khumchey Gumba in Gorkha, Chrighyang  Gumba in Dolakha and Chirite Gumba in Sindhupalchok now in ruins

-    Damages yet to be known in Nuwakot, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga, Makwanpur, Lamjung and Syangja

-    Since monasteries are often built on hilltops, landslide has cut off the way for rescue

-    2,200 monasteries registered with the committee

-    Officials say there are about 5,000 in the country

Published: 22-05-2015 07:53

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