Huge fire at Jokhang temple sparks fears of its future

Fire breaks out at Tibetan Buddhist temple

Huge fire at Jokhang temple sparks fears of its future

Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua said that the fire was put out soon and that there were no casualties.

The fire had broken out at 6.40pm, and the Communist Party secretary for the district, Wu Yingjie, had "rushed to the scene", the official Tibet Daily reported on its social media account. Firefighters have doused the fire and the relics are intact, the brief report said without providing details. The temple will be closed from February 19-22 when its monks mark the New Year holiday.

A fire damaged the sacred Jokhang Monastery in the Tibetan capital Lhasa Saturday, but as usual, official Chinese media were extremely reluctant in reporting the subject.

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Internet users posted pictures and videos of the fire on social media, showing flames shooting high into the sky above old Lhasa.

"Tibetans consider Lhasa to be a sacred place, but Jokhang is a sacred place within that sacred place - the most sacred in all of Tibet", she said.

Jokhang Monastery - also known as Dazhao Temple - is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has a history of more than 1,300 years and houses many cultural treasures, including a life-sized statue of Sakyamuni when he was 12 years old.

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This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

Observers, however, have expressed concern that China may be suppressing information about the blaze, which occurred a day after Losar, the traditional Tibetan New Year.

There were no casualties, Xinhua reported.

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China has ruled Tibet since the 1950s, and has been accused of trying to eradicate its Buddhist-based culture through political and religious repression.

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