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Tibetan Monks Move in Make-shift Monastery

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Loading boxes of instant noodles on to a military truck, young Tibetan monk Badingwenjiang bid farewell to the ruins of Thrangu Monastery.

"I don't want to leave, but there is no choice. In fact, just looking at the devastation reminds me of my dead classmates," said Badingwenjiang, 22, who has studied at the monastry's Buddhism Institute for two years.

Nestled among hills of China's remote Tibetan plateau, the 700-year-old Thrangu Monastery was severely damaged in the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that rocked the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu April 14.

The quake left at least 2,220 people dead and more than 100,000 homeless, including 8,000 monks and nuns.

About 200 monks from Thrangu Monastery have moved into a row of prefabricated wooden homes on a prairie 20 km from the ruins.

"Here will be our temporary monastery before a new one is built. It doesn't matter if it is not as grand and beautiful as the old one," said Lodroe Nyima Rinpoche, living Buddha of the monastery.

Military trucks loaded with Buddhist relics, prayer items, food and clothes dot the "prairie monastery." Six bronze statues of Buddha, each 2 meters high, stand in the middle, facing snow-capped mountains.

Lodroe Nyima Rinpoche said the old monastery was reduced to rubble, with 40 percent of its relics damaged or buried. The devastation amounted to a loss of 190 million yuan (US$27.9 million).

Lodroe Nyima Rinpoche said the 14 wooden homes are especially helpful because the relics and Buddhist collections cannot be guaranteed being taken well of in cotton tents.

"We need at least 30 more," he said.

Lodroe Nyima Rinpoche said he felt especially grateful to hundreds of soldiers who helped out in the rescue and recovery.

"Natural disasters are violent and unavoidable. Fortunately, soldiers, monks and civilians came together in the wake of devastation," he said.

Local government officials said they planned to restore the 87 quake-damaged monasteries in Yushu within three years. They pledged to provide thousands of monks and nuns decent accommodation by the end of the year.

(Xinhua News Agency April 28, 2010)

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