Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bhutan Earthquake Situation

We are headed to Bhutan on October 1st with repurcussion of the earthquake on Sept 21st still coming in.

News articles are coming out about the deaths and damage are now being compiled.

The New York Post has an article about some of the damage done to Buddhist monasteries there and that some monks have been forced to leave.
Kuensel Online a Bhutanese media outlet has a story as well. They have listed the casualties, talked with survivors and summed up some of the damage to Buddhist related structures and the like:
Many monuments, monasteries, chortens, houses and schools in eastern Bhutan have been damaged. There were heavy cracks on Trashigang dzong and Lhuentse Singye dzong, according to dzongkhag officials. Dzongkhag officials in Pemagatsel also reported that there was a major damage to Yongla Goenpa. The sertho of Trongsa dzong had also tilted, while parts of the Tshemey lhakhang in Yangneer, Trashigang, collapsed, injuring four people, including two monks. Roadblocks in many parts of Mongar and Trashigang were also reported.
Here is a link to over 500 news stories for those following the situation. It should be noted that aftershocks are occurring as well and increasing the damage and the likelihood of more casualties.

We have been told by our outfitters in Bhutan to expect some aftershocks during our journey. Though these will probably pass unnoticed.
Locally the Buddhist population of Tibetan refugees has been enjoying a festival of Tibetan music, dance and other arts for the past few days to coincide with the ending of the Muslim season of Ramadan and the start of the Hindu season of Dussera/Divali (festival of lights). It is usually decided that if some of the major religious denominations are going to take a holiday then all might as well enjoy it in their own way as well.

There are collections being taken up by the Tibetans at this time, at the temple from visitors and the school from the audience to send whatever assistance is possible through the monastic system and the Tibetan government in exile to Bhutan to help with their efforts at ameliorating some of the destruction. I am told initiatives are currently being organized elsewhere here in India as well among the Buddhist populations.

Once we return we will have a better idea of how we can provide help to areas in need.