Tibetans celebrate their new year despite strong dawn earthquake

Xinhua
New Year celebrations have been proceeding as usual in the eastern part of Tibet Autonomous Region, despite a strong earthquake striking Nyingchi City before dawn on Saturday.
Xinhua
Xinhua

Villagers pray for harvest in the farmland of Puqu Township in Nyingchi, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, on Saturday. Sunday is the first day of the Kongpo New Year in the Nyingchi area according to the Tibetan calendar.

New Year celebrations have been proceeding as usual in the eastern part of Tibet Autonomous Region, despite a strong earthquake striking Nyingchi City before dawn on Saturday.

Sunday is the first day of the Kongpo New Year according to the Tibetan calendar. In observing New Year customs, locals would clean their homes, dress in festive clothes, set off fireworks and have fun.

At 6:34am on Saturday, however, the 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck. The quake was felt strongly in all of the eight counties and districts in Nyingchi. It caused three injuries. The houses of 1,453 families were damaged, the city government said.

Thanks to timely rescue efforts, the celebration among locals went smoothly as planned, the government said.

By Sunday afternoon, more than 4,000 rescue workers, including armed police and fire fighters, had been sent to different townships in Nyingchi for relief efforts after the strong quake. Close to 400 vehicles were also dispatched to aid the rescue.

More than 500 tents have been set up for those whose homes were damaged in the quake, the disaster relief headquarters said. 

“When the earthquake happened, many of the people were scared and they cried. When they saw the government responded quickly to help them, they felt assured and their mood is back to the new year again,” said Zhu Zhenghong, deputy head of Lunang township.

“Within two hours, township officials, police officers and soldiers arrived here to check house conditions and brought relief materials,” said Liao Taiwen, a restaurant owner in Baiyi district.

Trok Cering was milking a cow in the yard when the earthquake happened. “It was the largest earthquake in my life. The house was shaking and I couldn’t stand still. It’s terrifying,” he said. “I shouted to my wife in the house to wake her up and get out to the yard, but I dared not go inside the house at all.”

There are several cracks on his two-story house. A tent has been set up in his yard for temporary accommodation.

Xinhua

A villager in Tibet’s Nyingchi City takes part in an archery event to celebrate the Kongpo New Year on Saturday.

Local government officials are issuing guidance in the rescue work. Disrupted power supply and communications have been repaired and services have been resumed.

More than 2,000 people have been relocated to temporary shelters.

According to the city government of Nyingchi, 505 tents have been set up in 49 resettlement points, with enough moisture-proof pads, quilts, flashlights and emergency lamps for those affected by the quake.

Rescuers also cleared 162 road blockages and restored 53 telecommunication lines.

More than 300 aftershocks have been detected, affecting over 12,000 people in six counties and districts.

About 3,000 buildings, including 24 offices, seven police stations, nine health centers, 25 schools and several temples suffered damage.

At the Lunang township, where the epicenter of the earthquake was monitored, dozens of villagers had gathered to perform archery and make toast for the new year celebrations.

For Nyima Wangyel, who lives in Puchu township, preparing a feast for his dogs is a must do for celebrating the New Year.

“The dogs ate tsamba (roasted barley flour) first, and we see this as a good omen for harvest for the next year,” he said.


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