Dalai Lama prays for quake victims


DHARMSALA, India — The Dalai Lama offered his condolences and prayers Tuesday for the victims of the massive earthquake that hit central China, killing some 12,000 people.

“I would like to extend my deep sympathy and heartfelt condolences to those families who have been directly affected by the strong earthquake,” the Tibetan spiritual leader said in a statement. “I offer my prayers for those who have lost their lives and those injured.”

The Dalai Lama has been vilified lately by Chinese authorities who blame him for the recent unrest in Tibet, which Beijing says were part of a campaign to split the Himalayan region from the rest of China.

The Dalai Lama has denied these charges, saying that despite China’s harsh crackdown on the demonstrations that erupted in March, he still supports a solution of meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people under China’s rule, not independence.

The death toll from the China disaster rose to nearly 12,000 with thousands more missing a day after the powerful 7.9 magnitude quake struck Monday afternoon centered in Sichuan province.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan parliament-in-exile held a special Buddhist prayer session at their headquarters in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala.

“In this hour of Chinese national tragedy, our heart goes to brothers and sisters of the people of China and pray for an early recovery from the shock and difficulties that they have gone through,” said a statement from the parliament.