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Potala Wall Repairs Begin

A renovation project to repair a collapsed wall at the famed Potala Palace in Tibet finally started Tuesday.

Part of the front wall at the Potala Palace in Lhasa collapsed in August 2001 after rain water caused severe erosion at the site. But work could only safely begin after a pain-staking two-year geological survey of the site's foundation was completed.

A crack that was found in the wall is some 10-metres wide and 20-metres high. Drainage holes that are too small have been blamed for the erosion problems. Underground drainage systems at the wall also badly need to be upgraded.

The project will cost more than 3 million yuan (US$361,000), according to engineers with China Railway Construction Co. The firm is heading up the project.

The 1,300-year-old red-and-white palace, former office compound of Tibetan rulers, also was the residence of Tibetan religious leaders -- the Dalai Lamas -- since the 17th century. It has been listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site since 1994.

As many as 1,500 visitors and pilgrims visit the relic each day, with a record number 5,000 visitors stopping by in a single day.

(China Daily September 17, 2003)

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