New Delhi, May 14: Monday's earthquake in China's south western Sichuan province has irretrievably damaged priceless artefacts and buildings containing some of the country's cultural heritage. The China Daily quoted local officials and experts as saying that a 12-storey Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) pagoda in Langzhong was one of the items damaged by the 7.8-magnitude quake on Monday.
The exterior of the Museum of the Sanxingdui Ruins was also damaged, they said. "The 400-year-old pagoda broke into half during the Monday earthquake," Deng Changwen, a spokesman for the Sichuan Provincial Seismological Bureau, told reporters. The top of the 12-story pagoda, a landmark in the city, fell to the ground minutes after the quake hit, he said. In the Jinsha Ruins Museum in western suburban Chengdu, a small amount of ancient pots in the No 2 Exhibition Hall of the museum were smashed by the quake but other exhibits such as bronze ware, gold ware and ivory works remained intact, museum director Wang Fei told China Daily via cell phone.
On Tuesday, the museum withdrew key items from exhibition halls and put them in storage, Wang said. Wall sections of the Sanxingdui Ruins museum in Guanghan County, about 40 km north of Chengdu, were also damaged, said Lei Yu, an expert in cultural heritage maintenance at the museum.
"Some 20 sets of 3,000-4,000-year-old ceramic utensils on display on the second and third floors of the museum hall fell to the ground and were shattered. Fortunately, the bronzeware in the museum remain intact", Lei told China Daily by phone. Surveying work started yesterday to find out how major cultural heritage items in the province were affected by the disaster.
The extent of the damage is expected to revealed after several days.
In the hard-hit areas of Chengdu, Mianyang, Aba and Deyang that include 39 counties and cities, there are at least one World Cultural Heritage site, 49 key cultural heritage items under State Protection and 225 key cultural heritage items under provincial protection.
Local authorities in Sichuan and neighboring regions have been urged to take measures to protect cultural heritage items in the quake-hit region.