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Impact of Nepal Earthquake in Tibet Trivialized by Chinese Propaganda


On a gloomy afternoon at the Everest base camp on April 25, Dr. Nyima Namyal was having lunch when the earth beneath him started to rumble violently. “The next thing I noticed was this big black cloud-like thing rolling towards us, objects were flying everywhere. That's when I realized this could be the end,” said the Sherpa expedition doctor while speaking with VOA's Tibetan Service on the phone.

Luckily, Dr. Namgyal survived the terrifying ordeal and started reporting about the avalanche incidences through his facebook page. His reports reminded people that, although Nepal is known for its disorganized infrastructure and poverty, its people enjoy the freedom of press. The story of Nepal's earthquake spread globally with hourly updates on social media and news channel by reporters everywhere.

However, the news from the other side of the Mount Everest had to come exclusively through China’s state-run media outlet, since social networking websites such as facebook are restricted and foreign reporters aren't allowed inside Tibet.

The Chinese state run television, CCTV, which reported the destruction in Nepali’s capital few hours after the area was hit with its first earthquake of 7.8 magnitude, took over two days to mention any information about the effects of the same earthquake on the Tibetan side of the Himalayas. CCTV reported about the earthquake effects in Tibet only after delayed relief works arrived in some of the affected areas in Tibet on April 27.

The Chinese international rescue team arrived in Kathmandu on April 26, the day after the earthquake, and the team did not arrive in the Tibetan town of Dram until April 27. In one of most effected Tibetan town called Kyirong, the relief was only delivered 10 days after the initial earthquake.

From April 27 till May 8, CCTV English news alone reported over 89 times on the impact of the earthquake at Tibet side of the border, which killed at least 25 people. The conversations, however, failed to deliver the real condition of the affected people and their personal experiences, which indicated that the reports were merely designed to highlight the government’s efforts to help local people.

According to the same source, over 100,000 Tibetans near Nepal border areas had relocated to Lhatse County, about 300 km from the border town of Dram.

A witness from the Nepali side of China-Nepal Friendship Bridge says Tibet side of the border has become a ghost town now. “Nobody is there. Everyone was taken over there, in Lhatse,” said Sangye, who has recently returned to Kathmandu. “Only few people were left behind to look after the cows, for those who have cows.” He said over 40 Nepali citizens were also relocated with the Tibetans, and that China had begun its relocation only after the roads were cleared and no helicopters were utilized to rescue Tibetans from the villages and other remote areas.

At least 2511 houses had collapsed, and 300,000 people were affected at the Tibetan side of the border, mostly within the counties of Nyalam and Kyirong. According to an official Shegatse Prefecture guidebook, Nyalam County has 150,000 people and Kyirong County has 100,000 people. This statistic alone indicates the magnitude and severity of Nepal's earthquake on Tibet.

There is no indication from the Chinese official news about how long the massive relocated people will remain in the tents set up in Lhatse County. Sangye believes the locals were told that they are not allowed to return until all the buildings are either fixed or rebuilt.

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