YUSHU, Qinghai - The government is prepared to repair all 87 monasteries damaged in the Yushu earthquake, a local official in charge of religious affairs said.
"Such repairs will be one of the priorities in our quake relief and rebuilding efforts this year," Leshi, chief of the ethnic and religious affairs committee in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Yushu, said on Saturday.
"By the end of this year, we hope to restore the living quarters of the monasteries for more than 8,000 monks now living in makeshift tents."
Yushu, where more than 90 percent of the population is Tibetan, has 238 monasteries with more than 23,000 monks.
"The residents rely on Tibetan Buddhism for spiritual support and for many, the monastery is viewed as more important than their own homes," said Leshi.
The 7.1 magnitude quake seriously damaged some of the best-known monasteries including Thrangu, Gyegu and Renyak.
After the earthquake struck, monks from the monasteries joined People's Liberation Army soldiers in rescue operations, said Leshi. "They helped save the injured, deliver relief supplies and bury the dead."
Eighty-four monks were killed by the quake. Of the 12,000 people injured, at least 100 are monks, said Leshi.
According to the government's rebuilding plan, repair work on the monks' residences will be completed before the end of this year.
Within two to three years, the monasteries will be totally fixed as well as upgraded to include running water, electricity and the Internet, which were previously unavailable at some lamaseries before the quake, said Leshi.
(China Daily 04/26/2010 page3)