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Panchen Lama donates money to snow-hit people
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The 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu has donated 30,000 yuan (more than 4,100 US dollars) to people affected by the severe snow weather, an official in charge of a donation ceremony said in Guiyang on Friday.

The living Buddha donated the money to southwestern China's Guizhou Province, one of the hardest-hit regions in the snowstorms over the past three weeks, via the Buddhist Association of China (BAC).

The Panchen Lama expressed the hope that affected people could rebuild their homes and recover from the natural disaster, said Master Xuecheng on behalf of BAC.

The buddhist organization and the Taoist Association of China jointly transferred a total of 3.7 million yuan (nearly 507,000 US dollars) to the bank account of the province's disaster-relief authority at a donation ceremony held in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou, on Friday.

Master Xuecheng said BAC has called upon buddhist organizations at all levels and temples across the country to donate money or disaster-relief materials since the National Bureau of religious Affairs launched the donation campaign early this month.

Chinese citizens had donated nearly 1.02 billion yuan (146 million US dollars) in cash and relief supplies to snow disaster areas by Thursday, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Of the total, 76.81 million yuan was collected by the ministry itself, while 136 million yuan was received by the Red Cross Society of China and 44.1 million yuan came from the China Charity Federation.

The seven worst-hit provinces and regions, including Hunan Province, have received donations worth 761 million yuan.

More than 100 million people were affected, and at least 80 others were killed in the snow havoc that disrupted transport and power services across a large swathe of the country's southern, central and eastern regions.

Direct economic losses hit 80 billion yuan (11 billion US dollars), and Chinese insurance companies have paid 917 million yuan (128 million US dollars) to meet claims from snow-stricken victims by Wednesday.

(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2008)

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