Fire hits Jokhang monastery, one of Tibet's most sacred

Frederick Owens
February 19, 2018

Photographs and videos posted on social media show the fire in one portion of the temple, one of the most hallowed places in Tibet, blazing in the night.

It is also home to numerous other priceless cultural artifacts, including more than 3,000 images of Buddhas, deities and historical figures as well as treasures and manuscripts, according to UNESCO. There were no reports of any casualties, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, without specifying the damage caused by the fire to the temple.

Official information extremely limited, raising concern about extent of damage.

Chinese state news media reported that the fire had been "quickly extinguished" after it broke out at the UNESCO heritage site on Saturday evening.

But on Twitter, which is blocked in China, some said photos and posts about the fire were being censored. "For Tibetans, the Jokhang is the holiest of holy sites".

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China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Chinese troops marched in in 1950, in what Beijing terms a "peaceful liberation".

The fire came at a particularly sensitive time, as Friday marked both the Tibetan New Year or Losar, and the Lunar New Year celebrated in the rest of China and in several other Asian nations.

The temple had been closed to the public yesterday, Xinhua cited a schedule put forth by local authorities as saying before the holiday began. "People are hugely concerned, rightly or wrongly, that the damage might be much more severe than the media is letting on".

Foreign journalists are banned from visiting Tibet except on state-sponsored tours.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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