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Fire reported at sacred Tibetan monastery

February 18, 2018

The more than 1,300-year-old monastery is one of the most sacred locations in Tibetan Buddhism. The cause and the extent of the damage remain unclear.

Fire at the sacred Jokhang Monastery
Image: Twitter

A fire broke out on Saturday at Lhasa's Jokhang Monastery, one of the holiest sites for Tibetan Buddhism.

There were no reports of any casualties and the extent of the damage was unclear.

The official Tibet Daily said part of the more than 1,300-year-old monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, caught fire in the early evening.

"The fire was quickly extinguished, there are no casualties and order is normal in its environs," the newspaper said on its WeChat account.

The streets around the monastery were temporarily closed after the fire and but have been reopened to pilgrims, the state Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.

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Chinese censorship

The area has been the site of past protests against Beijing's presence in Tibet.

Some Tibetans abroad alleged that Chinese authorities were censoring any photos or news about the blaze.

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

Jokhang monastery is home to one of Tibetan Buddhism's most venerated icons, the Jowo Shakyamuni — believed to be one of just three statues crafted during Buddha's actual lifetime, depicting him at age 12.

ap/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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