China says fire in sacred Tibetan monastery not arson

BEIJING — Chinese authorities say they've ruled out arson as the cause of a fire that damaged a 1,300-year-old monastery that is one of Tibetan Buddhism's most sacred sites.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday's fire at the Jokhang in the center of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, burned an area of about 50 square meters (538 square feet).

The cause of the fire that broke out Saturday in a ventilating chamber was being investigated, though arson was ruled out.

Xinhua said in its report Wednesday that all 6,510 registered cultural relics remained intact, including a famed life-size statue of the Buddha when he was 12 years old.

Although the main structure was not damaged, workers had removed its golden cupola to guard against any collapse.

The temple reopened on Sunday.

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