A 6.3-magnitude afternoon earthquake damaged nearly 200 homes, monuments, monasteries, government offices and schools in a little populated eastern region of Bhutan on Monday, state-run Kuensel newspaper reported. At least 12 people were killed and 15 people also were injured. Thousands of Bhutanese spent the night out in the open and landslides created roadblocks in many parts of the worst-hit districts of Munggar and Trashigang, the newspaper said.
I really appreciated Kuensel’s descriptive coverage of the events, which not only vividly describes the earthquake, but also gives some insight into Bhutanese life:
It was a warm sunny day in Trashigang on Monday. Like most afternoons, 63-year-old Tashi, sitting by the window in Udzorong, was picking lice from her granddaughter’s head. Lost in search, Tashi did not realise that a massive earthquake had hit her home until the ground beneath her shook with a loud noise.
Seeing her household items falling one after another from the shelves, Tashi grabbed her granddaughter and rushed out of the house. “My house crumbled in front of my eyes,” Tashi said, wiping the tears from her wrinkled eyes. Tashi and her granddaughter narrowly escaped, but she hurt her back and right foot in her rush outdoors. “Everything’s gone,” said Tashi, looking at her collapsed house.
Around the same time in Yangneer on the opposite hill, Gelong Kanjur and cook Rinzin of Gongthung shedra were chopping meat to prepare thub (porridge) for Thrue bab. Seated near the oven, they were planning the meals for the shedra when the earth suddenly shook and the roof over them creaked. Realising it was an earthquake, they tried to rush out, but were caught by the falling walls of the monastery.
“There were only about a dozen monks in the shedra. We sent some to call for help and others immediately started digging out the two from the rubble, using spade, crowbar and stick,” recalled the head of the monastery, lama Shedra Dorji. Soon, some villagers and civil servants arrived to help. “Rinzin was fully covered by debris and, when rescuers pulled him out of the wreckage, he was bleeding profusely. They were rushed to the Trashigang hospital. Both suffered fractures on their legs. Pema Choden in Buna, Rangjung, was shifting her bull to another pasture when she saw rocks falling off the cliff on the other side of the river. She looked towards her house and saw a thick cloud of dust ballooning. She had left behind four children in the house. Her first thought was that her house had fallen part due to the earthquake and that she must go to see her children.
“I thanked god countless times when I saw my children outside as I approached my house,” said Pema Choden. Half her kitchen walls have collapsed but she is not bothered. “I don’t care even if the whole house breaks down as long as I’ve my children safe,” she said. [full story]
Of course, I’m hoping that the death/injury toll from the quake is minimal, but is it wrong that I’m also hoping that this means there might be more coverage (pictures) of the hot King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck? Recent news of an uptick of suicides in Bhutan implies that the happiest country in Asia may not really be as happy as it seems. Certainly with the country coping with natural disaster, Bhutan’s citizens will be looking up to King Khesar for leadership and guidance to maintain or improve the nation’s Gross National Happiness.
All I know is that my eyes are happier every time I see photos of King Charming.