RELIGION

Thailand Earthquake Beheads Buddha Statue And Devastates Wat Rongkhun Temple

05/06/2014 10:38 am ET | Updated May 06, 2014

Myanmar and parts of northern Thailand were rocked by a strong earthquake on Tuesday that killed one person and hurt several dozen more.

Another casualty of the seismic disruption was a huge statue of the Buddha in the Chiang Rai province of Thailand, which was decapitated by the earthquake. Monk Phra Pathompong reported that the statue's head, located at Udomwaree temple, fell off during the shaking.

chiang rai

chiang rai Thai villagers examine a damaged Buddha statue following an earthquake in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Officials said Tuesday that one person was killed and several dozen were hurt in the earthquake that struck northern Thailand and Myanmar a day earlier, smashing windows, cracking walls and roads and damaging Buddhist temples. (AP Photo/Wichai Taprieu)

The iconic white temple of Wat Rongkhun near Chiang Rai was also damaged, and will be closed indefinitely for repairs, according to the Bangkok Post.

Chalermchai Kositpipat, the celebrated artist who owns the amazingly ornate structure, told the Post, "We couldn't sleep inside last night because the tremor was almost non-stop. The engineer who built the temple and I checked the damage last night and we thought it wasn't too bad. But come morning we were shocked by the extent of the destruction."

Kositpipat is still investigating the extent of the devastation, but he worries that if the structure is too damaged the temple may have to close for good. The temple is known for its elaborate white exterior and unorthodox interior murals, which feature statues of the Buddha as well as images of Superman, Batman, and Neo from the Matrix, because the artist believes they further the Buddha's message.

"We're desperate. Our works over the past 20 years disappeared in one day," he said.

Thailand's Meteorological Department said the quake was magnitude 6.3.

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