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Temple Rituals in Tibet Save Villagers' Lives

April 30, 2015

Da Qiong

When the devastating earthquake hit Nyanang County in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, more than 400 residents of the county's Tsongdu Village were gathered for religious rituals in the yard of a monastery.

"All of the houses completely collapsed. We are so fortunate that nobody died during the disaster," said Dawa Dondrub.

"All the elders of the village were attending a sacrificial ceremony, and the youngsters were planting trees. Thanks to that, we all survived," said the 66-year-old.

The village has 211 households with around 600 residents.

Two of the main temples at the Guru Lhakhang monastery were damaged, and most of the frescoes were cracked, according to Jamyang, a monk at the temple.

Since the temple is highly regarded by villagers, rescuers have begun to move all religious articles inside.

Dawa said 10 families are living in six tents provided by the local government, and all the refugees have been provided with food and basic necessities.

"Unlike other quakes in the past, this earthquake was very strange. It was so powerful that all the mountains around our village were rocking," said Dawa.

"Stones rolled down from the mountains, and the whole valley was filled with dust so we could not see anything," said Dawa.

Some animals in the village died, and others were hurt when rocks rolled down from the mountain.

Villager Dorje Tsering, 57, said: "We were having lunch when the quake happened, and my partners yelled at me, telling me it was an earthquake. I saw big rocks rolling down toward us and I began to run.

"All of my belongings were buried in the ruins. We have given up taking them out and will wait for the army to help us.

"We are so grateful to the government," Dorje added. "We have been provided with supplies such as butter, tea, carpets, tents and meals."

Some animals in the village were buried under the rubble because they were tied up in sheds.

"It was a pity our cow was killed," said Tashi, a 47-year-old villager. "It has provided plenty of milk for my family for more than 10 years."

Namgyal, a 60-year-old villager, was inside his house when the quake struck, and he held onto the window. Fortunately, he was not injured, but the walls of his house were damaged.

"My family has more than 60 yaks. They are on the mountain and I am not sure whether they are OK," Namgyal said.

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