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Apr 15
Thursday
Shambhala News Service
Eye-witness Report from Earthquake
Xinhua photo shows a monk being helped out of rubble.

Xinhua photo shows a monk being helped out of rubble.

Khenpo Tsering of the Surmang Monastery was able to call Lyndon Comstock of the Konchok Foundation to report on the devastation in the Surmang area. The full report of their call is below.

Khenpo said that Jyekundo (the closest city to Surmang) is completely destroyed. He said that probably 95% of the buildings in the city have been destroyed. He said that, if anyone has seen the movie 2012, it looks like that. Even some of the more recent larger buildings collapsed. He said that a six or seven story building collapsed like the World Trade Center.

Khenpo said that about eight hundred bodies that have been pulled out of the rubble so far but there are thousands more bodies still buried in the collapsed buildings.

Surmang Dutsi Til was not seriously affected by the earthquake. He has not been there in this first day since the earthquake but he was told that the earthquake was not so large there (Surmang is much further from the epicenter than Jyekundo is). He was told that no one was injured at Surmang
Dutsi Til, and that several buildings have cracks in them from the earthquake, but none collapsed. He was told that there was no damage at all to the new shedra building complex at Surmang, which he described as very strongly built compared to how other buildings are constructed in the region.

Trungpa XII Rinpoche is at Derge right now, which was not affected by the earthquake. Damcho Tenphel Rinpoche was at Kyere and most of the family members of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche are in that area, which was not affected by the earthquake. However, several of the Vidyadhara’s nieces or nephews have been living in Jyekundo and Khenpo has no news yet of what has happened to them.

Thrangu monastery was the monastery most severely damaged by the earthquake from the reports that Khenpo has received. He was told that it is “95% destroyed” and that many monks there are dead, but no one yet knows how many.

Khenpo asked Lyndon to tell the Shambhala sangha that, if we are able to send money, that would be very helpful, because everyone who was involved in this earthquake needs help. He is going to find the Surmang families first to see how he can help them but there are many people who need help. Everyone who was living in Jyekundo has lost their house and has had people close to them who was killed or injured.

Lee Weingrad, director of the Surmang Foundation was interviewed by BBC TV and Radio (BBC World Report) to speak for their foundation and the NGO community. He reports: ” The tone was very open and dignified and I think we can say a lot by not pretending to have anything other than a broken heart as the basis for fearlessly helping the victims of the unspeakable tragedy. There might be another interview tonight Beijing time and if there is, I’ll be sure to give some advance warning.”

The Konchok Foundation has set up a disaster relief fund so that sangha members or others who wish to offer support can do so at: http://www.konchok.org /

Donations can be made from anywhere by credit card or from the U.S. or Canada by check. Donations will be forwarded to Khenpo Tsering of the Surmang monastery for distribution.

Please recall compassionately in your daily practice all those who have been killed, injured, or left homeless by the earthquake.

For further information:
Konchok Foundation http://www.konchok.org /
Surmang Foundation http://www.surmang.org /

The full report of the call between Khenpo Tsering and Lyndon Comstock
follows:

I was able to reach Khenpo Tsering tonight and this is what I learned.

It’s been a very long 24 hours for him since he called me from
Xining last night just after the earthquake had happened. He was leaving
immediately for Jyekundo at that time to help with the rescue efforts.

The road from Xining to Jyekundo is open. There are some cracks in the
road and rocks on the road but it is passable. On the way down to Jyekundo,
Khenpo passed at least a thousand cars or vehicles that were taking injured
people up to hospitals in Xining. There is not nearly enough hospital
capacity in Jyekundo for all of the injured people.

Khenpo said that Jyekundo is “completely destroyed.” He said that
probably 95% of the buildings in the city have been destroyed. He said
that, if anyone has seen the movie 2012, it looks like that. Even some of
the more recent larger buildings collapsed. He said that a six or seven
story building collapsed “like the World Trade Center.”

He went first to his own family’s house in Jyekundo to look for his
family and dig them out if necessary. Unlike most houses, his family’s
house did not collapse. It has a large crack in it, the back wall is
tilting at an angle, and it will have to be rebuilt, but it did not fall
down. His father, sister, and brother are ok and were not injured. Khenpo
said that he has a number of other relatives in Jyekundo and he thinks that
six or seven of them were killed.

He said that he and his family members have been spending all of their
time helping other people dig in collapsed buildings, trying to find people
who are still alive, but they haven’t found anyone alive. He said that he
has pulled out several people who were already dead.

There are now a large number of Chinese soldiers in Jyekundo who are
helping to dig but not enough compared to how many collapsed buildings that
there are, and the soldiers don’t have enough heavy equipment.

Khenpo said that about eight hundred bodies that have been pulled out of
the rubble so far but “there are thousands more bodies still buried in the
collapsed buildings.” I said that the reports here are of ten thousand
people injured and he said that it was at least that many and repeated that
there isn’t enough space in the hospitals for all of them.

No one is staying inside any of the buildings that are still standing
and everyone is living outside in tents or in whatever way that they can.
He’s sleeping in his car.

Surmang Dutsi Til was not seriously affected by the earthquake. He has
not been there in this first day since the earthquake but he was told that
the earthquake was not so large there (Surmang is much further from the
epicenter than Jyekundo is). He was told that no one was injured at Surmang
Dutsi Til, and that several buildings have cracks in them from the
earthquake, but none collapsed. He was told that there was no damage at all
to the new shedra building complex at Surmang, which he described as very
strongly built compared to how other buildings are constructed in the
region.

Khenpo has not heard yet of any damage at Surmang Namgyaltse. He has
been told that the damage in the Nangchen heartland, centered around the
town of Sharda, was not nearly as bad as around Jyekundo.

Trungpa XII Rinpoche is at Derge right now, which was not affected by
the earthquake. Damcho Tenphel Rinpoche was at Kyere and most of the family
members of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche are in that area, which was not affected
by the earthquake. However, several of the Vidyadhara’s nieces or nephews
have been living in Jyekundo and Khenpo has no news yet of what has happened
to them. Aten Rinpoche is alright, I believe he was at Surmang at the time
of the earthquake but he has now come up to Jyekundo to help out. One of
Aten Rinpoche¹s relatives is a khenpo at Thrangu monastery and was killed.

Thrangu monastery was the monastery most severely damaged by the
earthquake from the reports that Khenpo has received. He was told that it
is “95% destroyed” and that many monks there are dead, but no one yet knows
how many. Benchen monastery wasn’t damaged as badly even though it is very
close to Thrangu monastery. Domkhar monastery in Jyekundo was already in
the process of being moved from its precarious hillside perch to a safer
location in the valley and he thinks there wasn’t so much of a problem for
them as a result. The Sakya monastery on a hilltop in Jyekundo has major
damage but the buildings did not collapse.

Thirty or forty families from the Surmang area now have winter houses in
Jyekundo, which they were living in when the earthquake happened. He knows
all of these families and is trying to check up on them. He thinks that all
of them have lost their houses and probably ten to twenty people were killed
from the Surmang families.

He asked me to tell the Shambhala sangha that, if we are able to send
money, that would be very helpful, because everyone who was involved in this
earthquake needs help. He is going to find the Surmang families first to
see how he can help them but there are many people who need help. Everyone
who was living in Jyekundo has lost their house and has had people close to
them who was killed or injured.

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