I was in Yushu on 16-19 April visiting my Tibetan friends who survive one of the most serious earthquakes in Tibetan history. The earthquakes hit the area on 14 April. When we heard the news, we rented a car and came here right away. Our journey from Aba (Ngawa) covered a distance of more than 1000 kilometers.
The first minor quake took place at 5.40 am. This was followed by a most serious one at 7 am – the time many children, particularly those who have not been to school were still sleeping.
The badly affected areas are Tibetan village zones where houses were made of mud. Even Kunga Sangbo Rinpoche’s sister’s home was completely destroyed. This is where he stayed when he came to Yushu. The house had been my home for several years when I came to Yushu to do a linguistic research. Rinpoche’s niece and her son were instantly killed in this tragedy. His nephew is injured and hospitalized in Xining. Eight other relatives of his were also killed.
On the 18 we visited Pathang district where Rinpoche was born. Fortunately, the school, which he built and the foundation supported, is left intact, though many kids lost their families. The school has been closed from the day of earthquake and will be like this for months till teachers and children can gather themselves again. Airplanes were flying in the newly built airport on the side of the mountains facing the school. Things are changing. And nature has to give way to science and development.
On the way to the school we stopped at a cemetary where 30 monks of Trangu Monastery were buried and cremated. The monastery was badly hit. And two villages nearby completely collapsed. That day President Hu flew to Yushu (via Patang) to visit surviving families. We were stuck in a road for 6 hours – good time to reflect on death and impermanence and time to plan of what to do next.
After the quake, many stories were told. On the 14 Yushu has become a haunted town, where only cries were heard. Some died in blazing fire, that occurred after the quake. Some tried to rescue their loved ones with no awail. Rinpoche said 500 people that he knew were killed.
On the 17 we gathered at the cremation site with many monks from Jyeku and nearby monasteries. I looked at the corpses wrapped in cloth being taken to the site and the pictures of naked corpses awaiting cremation with no feelings but sorrow that can’t be expressed.
On behalf of the victims Rinpoche and I would like to beg for relief donations from our Thai and international friends. We not only want food and basic necessities for the people but we are thinking to rebuild families, support kids, particularly those who lost their parents, take care of the elderly who lost their children or caretakers, as well as help those who can no longer work after they come back from hospitals.
Please help us spread the news on this Tibetan earthquake and support us in whatever way you can.
Donations can be made in my Chengdu account in China, the Thousand Stars Foundation accounts in Thailand, or by Paypal. Please write to Panpilat at firstname.lastname@example.org for detail on money transfer.
I’ll write more stories, show videos, and post pictures when I return home on April 28. The donations will be given to the survivors right away.
In compassion and gratitude
Dr. Krisadawan Hongladarom (Kesang Dawa)
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha