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Tibetans in Uttrakhand set up relief camp, Offer prayers

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DHARAMSHALA, June 25: Local Tibetan monasteries and groups have joined ongoing relief efforts in the flood-ravaged state of Uttrakhand in north India.

Tibetan groups and monastic institutions near the state capital of Dehradun have set up a camp to aid relief works at the Dehradun Jolly Grant Airport, which has been serving as the base camp for the ongoing rescue and relief efforts.

The Doon Tibetan community also held a prayer service and lit hundreds of butter lamps to pay homage to those who have become victims of the devastating rain and floods being referred to as the ‘Himalayan Tsunami.’

Monks from the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug monasteries in the region offered prayers for the deceased and for the safe return of the thousands of people, locals and pilgrims, who have been left stranded in the higher regions of the State after entire stretches of roads were washed away in flood waters.

The camp set up by the local Tibetan groups and monastic institutions is providing basic amenities to thousands who have been rescued as well as to the large number of people involved in the rescue efforts.

“All possible help and food and drinks will be provided by this camp from June 24-26,” the Tibetan monastic institutions said in a release. “Keeping this tragic disaster in mind, we pledge to continue to provide relevant assistance as the situation develops.”

The Dehradun area shelters large communities of exiled Tibetans, most prominently in Dickyiling, Clement Town, Rajpur and Mussoorie, the first residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama after coming into exile.

In Uttrakhand, over an estimated 800 people have died, along with thousands who remain stranded in remote mountainous areas. The Indian government is desperately responding with the use of makeshift bridges to transport people to safety by road, after the army was forced to halt helicopter rescues, due to inclement weather.

So far, the India army has rescued about 90,000 people from hundreds of villages and small towns. In some areas, entire towns have been flattened by landslides that were followed by floods.

The Dalai Lama has written to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Uttrakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, expressing his condolences to families who have been effected by the devastating rain and floods and also offered monetary contributions to the ongoing relief efforts.

Last week, the exile Tibetan administration in Dharamshala expressed its “deep sadness” over the devastation caused by torrential rain and floods and announced a donation of Rs 3 lakh to the Uttrakhand Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for the flood victims as a “gesture of solidarity.”

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