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AP Interview: UNESCO chief says Nepal sites ‘huge disaster’

April 27, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An expert team will assess whether parts of the World Heritage site that were nearly destroyed by this weekend’s earthquake can be repaired or even reconstructed, the head of the United Nations cultural agency said Monday.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova told The Associated Press in a brief interview Monday that it was “heartbreaking” to see the destruction to the country’s distinctive blend of Hinduism and Buddhism.

She said the preliminary assessment from her agency’s Kathmandu office is a “huge disaster.”

Bokova said three of the seven places of worship in the extensive World Heritage site in and around Kathmandu have been severely damaged.

They include one of the most important, the Durbar Square in Kathmandu, which held pagodas and temples which date from between the 15th and 18th centuries, she said.

“I will send as soon as possible a mission of experts to make an assessment and see what can be done in order to repair the damage or maybe, in some cases, will try to reconstruct them,” Bokova said.

A UNESCO statement Monday said the Durbar Squares in Patan and Bhaktapur were also “almost fully destroyed.”

Bokova said another of Nepal’s World Heritage sites, Sagarmatha National Park around Mount Everest, is damaged, but the extent is not yet known.

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