The Wall Street Journal, 12 May 2015
China reported a new death and more destruction in Tibet on Tuesday following the latest earthquakes in Nepal, after last month’s temblors in the Himalayas had also badly shaken parts of the plateau.
China’s state news agency Xinhua said one person died in a landslide in Tibet on Tuesday as a result of what the U.S. Geological Survey measured as a magnitude-7.3 quake in Nepal, and a less-substantial one a half-hour later. Another two were also injured a landslide that occurred in Gyirong County, it said.
China Central Television broadcast footage suggesting new damage in Tibet.
During the April 25 Nepal earthquake that left at least 8,000 dead there, some parts of southern Tibet were also badly shaken. China’s latest tallies put last month’s death toll in the Tibet Autonomous Region at 26 people, with three missing and 856 injured.
Reflecting Beijing’s concerns about retaining political control of the Buddhist region, information from Tibet is tightly monitored by Chinese authorities and most flows from official news outlets.
The impact of last month’s earthquake in Tibet has been clipped in comparison to the widespread coverage in China’s state-run media of the much-worse devastation in Nepal, where Chinese troops aided in the response. Devastation from natural disasters normally gets widespread media coverage in China, notably the massive Sichuan earthquake in 2008 that on Tuesday passed its seventh anniversary that was highlighted in a report on CCTV’s main news broadcast.
Last week, a blog aimed at travelers said Tibet’s Nepal border town of Dram was worst affected in the earlier temblor but that many other areas popular with visitors were little affected. It speculated the base camp on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest might soon reopen.
Brief dispatches in China’s state-run media suggest that the devastation last month in Tibet included the south-central city Xigaze and the western town of Ngari. Some 47,500 people were made homeless and 300,000 in total were affected, according to one Xinhua report that also said 2,500 houses fell across 19 counties in Tibet, with more than 24,700 damaged. The report, citing local publicity department figures, said 82 temples were damaged.
“The Nepal earthquake greatly affected Tibet Autonomous Region, causing fatalities and huge losses to the local economy,” Xinhua said last week in a report that quoted unnamed local authorities.
When the big Nepal quake hit last month, China said more than 100 Nepalese climbers had been among 470 foreigners initially stranded on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest, which China calls Chomolungma. It said all made it out of the area.
The China-Nepal Highway sustained heavy damage after last month’s quake. It took 13 days for authorities to clear a key Himalayan route between Nepal and China, Gyirong Pass, following the clearance of 28 landslides. No information was available on the current state of the pass.
To restore affected telecommunications and repair 47 bases in the remote Tibetan plateau last month, Chinese authorities said they dispatched 158 engineers in 52 vehicles