Sacred Tibetan Monastery Catches Fire, No Reports Of Casualties

  • Sacred Tibetan Monastery Catches Fire, No Reports Of Casualties

Sacred Tibetan Monastery Catches Fire, No Reports Of Casualties

Robert Barnett, a London-based Tibetologist, tweeted that sources in Lhasa "claim police have threatened anyone distributing pictures or unofficial news about the fire".

A fire damaged the sacred Jokhang Monastery in the Tibetan capital Lhasa Saturday, but as usual, official Chinese media were extremely reluctant in reporting the subject.

The fire started at around 6:40 p.m. and has now been extinguished.

"The official Tibet Daily said part of the monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a history of more than 1,000 years, caught fire in the early evening".

There were no reports of any casualties, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, without specifying the damage caused by the fire to the temple.

Reports say that Chinese authorities quickly tried to block footage and images of the fire appearing on social media.

On Twitter, which is blocked in China, Tibetans overseas noted that photos and posts about the fire were quickly being censored. Access to the temple area was said to have been restricted. The Tibetan New Year was celebrated last Friday, coinciding with the Spring Festival this year.

Video on Chinese social media showed a roof in the monastery complex consumed by large flames that were visible from hundreds of meters (yards) away.

The Chinese government routinely rejects accusations from rights groups and exiled Tibetans about repression of the largely Buddhist Tibetans, saying its rule has brought prosperity to what was once a poor and backward place.