374-year-old fortress finally vanishes

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A fire has completely razed 374-year-old Wangduephodrang Dzong on Sunday afternoon in what citizens and officials have described as one of the most terrible tragedies to have occurred in the country.

The Dzong on fire (Picture courtesy : Kuensel)

The unknown inferno, which was reportedly noticed at around 5 p.m, went out of control before it turned the historic fortress into ashes. The building was founded by Zhandrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1638 AD.

Officials have confirmed that the nation has saved most of the sacred relics and historical documents since renovation works were underway. However, almost all dzongkhag administrative document have been lost, reports Kuensel.

Firefighters, who were massively deployed to save the epic structure, claimed they were helpless as strong winds continue to blow in the premises.

The geographical location has also been blamed for making the fire crew inefficient to battle effectively.

The road to the Wangduephodrang Dzong became a narrow thread to ministers, VIPs, government officials and general people for their travel throughout the mishap hours. Even the King and his father reached the scene, according to reports.

The Acting Prime Minister Yeshay Zimba recalled “the incident a national tragedy and a huge loss to the country”.

Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley, who has been out of the country since a week, is likely to cut-short his visit.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs made a public circular that all government units, offices and educational institutions will remain closed on Monday to reflect on the national tragedy.

The Dzong is located some 20 km away from Punaka. It was renovated twice after a fire in 1837 and an earthquake in 1897.

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