An ancient pagoda collapsed while it was going under renovation, killing at least 5 people, injuring many workers and pilgrims.
The 180-foot Danoke Pagoda is situated in Dala Township, which is across the Yangon River, in Yangon Division. The pagoda was originally damaged during Cyclone Nargis, so it had been going under renovation.
Just on May 7th, 2009, there had been an umbrella-hoisting ceremony at Danoke Pagoda, which was attended by military leader Senior General Than Shwe’s wife.
The New Era Journal reported:
An old woman who lives in Danoke Village near the pagoda said, “What happened was around 2pm, the hti-taw (ornamental finial of the pagoda) collapsed first, yet there was no strong wind blowing. At that time, the renovation team on scaffolding tried to adjust the collapsed hti-taw again. About 10 minutes later, I heard a roar and the whole top part of the pagoda collapsed, raising dust and everything turned black. I was lucky, but one of my sons who was working injured his skull, and another son had a bruise on his shoulder and a backache.”
Eyewitnesses said there were about 100 people at the pagoda at that time, including the pagoda renovation team, and those who volunteers at the pagoda on Saturday and Sunday. Among them were navy officers who were volunteering at the pagoda, and many of them were also injured.
An eyewitness said to New Era Journal:
“The pagoda was going through its final stage, ready to be covered with gold leaf, so there were a lot of people on the scaffolding. So it was difficult to jump down and escape. There are at least 50 people still trapped under the rubble. About 50 injured were carried off as in-patients to hospitals.”
A red-cross volunteer at the scene said:
“So far, there have been 5 deaths. The bodies have already been carried out. There are still people who are buried and we’re trying to save them.”
The above quotes from New Era Journal article were translation done by the author. The original article was written in Burmese language.
This article was originally published on globalvoicesonline.org