China Quake

Tibetans Burn Piles of Bodies

With their faces covered, Tibetan monks burned piles of bodies wrapped in blankets as the area was overwhelmed with the remains of victims of the 7.1-magnitude earthquake that rocked China this week. Traditionally, Tibetans cut their dead into pieces and leave the remains to be consumed by vultures in “sky burials.” "There are not enough vultures for all these bodies, so the bodies will become very dirty and it is not good for the souls to rest in peace," a monk said. "Therefore, we think the mass cremation is the best funeral for all these earthquake victims." The monks weren’t sure how many bodies were burned. The death toll in western China rose to 1,339, with 332 still missing, even as one survivor was pulled from the rubble three days after the disaster. The Dalai Lama said he wanted to visit the site; the spiritual leader fled Tibet in 1959 and has not returned. He praised Chinese officials for their quick response to the quake. Relief supplies must be trucked in from the Qinghai provincial capital, 12 hours away.