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Tibetans in Exile Pledge Support For Nepal Quake Victims Amid Rising Toll

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Tibet’s India-based government in exile pledged support for the survivors of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in neighboring Nepal this past weekend, while thousands gathered at a nearby temple to pray for the quake’s victims.

At least 4,000 are reported to have died in Saturday’s 7.9 magnitude quake, which leveled parts of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and left thousands more sleeping outside their homes as aftershocks continued to rock the city.

At least 25 Tibetans were reported killed on the Tibet side of the border with Nepal, according to Chinese state media, while the number of Tibetans who may have died inside Nepal—home to thousands of Tibetan refugees—is still unclear.

Only two so far are known to have died, exile Tibetan leader Lobsang Sangay said at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamsala, India, where thousands of Tibetans and foreign worshippers gathered on Monday to pray for the victims and survivors of the quake.

“Over 3,600 people have died and 6,500 were injured in Nepal,” Sangye said in remarks reported by Tibet’s government in exile, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), and working from figures available at the time that he spoke.

“Among the dead include two Tibetans including one youth in Boudha and a nun in [a] border area nunnery. Minor damages to the monasteries and remote Tibetan settlements in Nepal have also been reported,” Sangay said.

“I offer my sincere prayers for those who have lost their lives and hope that those injured recover soon,” Sangay said.

At least 25 dead in Tibet

At least 25 Tibetans are reported to have been killed, with 117 left injured, on the Tibetan side of the mountainous border with Nepal, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported on April 27.

“The counties of Gyirong, Nyalam, and Tingri were most affected. Nearly 80 percent of the houses in these three counties collapsed,” Xinhua said.

The number of casualties in Tibet is expected to rise as communications and access to remote areas are restored, Xinhua said.

Six of those reported killed in Tibet died in the border town of Dram, a New York-based Tibetan told RFA, citing contacts in the area.

“Survivors have been moved onto open ground with the help of Chinese and Tibetan military personnel,” he said.

Precise numbers of casualties in the Nyalam area are difficult to obtain, however, RFA’s source said.

“The road running from Nyalam to Dram and Nepal is damaged on both sides of the border, and the damage in Nyalam is reported to be very severe, with many houses collapsed,” he said.

Damage to monasteries 'slight'

Damage to Tibetan monasteries and religious structures in Nepal however was reported to be slight, sources said.

“The Boudha Temple is intact at its base, but there is a crack at its top level, and a few smaller stupas that were built later were damaged and fell down,” Tsering Dondrub, a Tibetan resident of Kathmandu, told RFA.

“I haven’t heard of any major damage to Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the valley, but it is difficult to communicate with these areas without power or the Internet,” he said.

“I have been living in the open for the last two nights,” Jampa Khedrub, another Tibetan resident, told RFA.

“I went back to check on my house, and it seemed to be leaning to one side, so I dare not enter my house for a while,” Khedrub said.

“Now the power is also down,” he said.

In a statement released on April 27, the Tibetan Kashag, or exile government cabinet, announced its contribution of 12,000,000 rupees (U.S. $188,645) toward relief work in Nepal.

It has also instructed all Tibetan communities and monasteries in Nepal to help in rescue and relief efforts in their own locales, the Kashag said.

Reported by Thubten Sangyay, Lhuboom, Dhondup Gonsar, and Tsewang Norbu for RFA’s Tibetan Service, and by Dan Zhen for the Mandarin Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma and Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.