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Dalai Lama to visit Siaolin, Linbian villages

Kaohsiung, Aug. 27 (CNA) Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will arrive in Taiwan for a six-day visit Aug. 30 and will travel to two villages hit hard by Typhoon Morakot to comfort the victims, the Kaohsiung city government confirmed Thursday.
City officials have begun arranging the Dalai Lama's itinerary while he is in Taiwan, and he is expected to head for some of the worst-hit disaster areas in southern Taiwan, including Siaolin village in Kaohsiung County and Linbian Township in neighboring Pingtung County, Sept. 1 and Sept. 2.
The two villages, particularly Siaolin village, were devastated by Morakok, which lashed southern Taiwan Aug. 7-10. Chiayi, Kaohsiung, Pingtung and Taitung counties suffered the most damage from the storm.
According to the Central Emergency Operation Center, the death toll from the disaster had reached 461, with 192 others reported missing and 46 injured, as of Tuesday. Many of the dead and missing are residents believed to have been buried under mudslides in Siaolin village.
The Kaohsiung city government is also hoping that the Dalai Lama will give a speech at the Kaohsiung Arena and hold an international news conference in the city during his three-day stay.
In bid to give moral support to the typhoon victims, the Dalai Lama agreed to travel to Taiwan and pray for them, responding to an invitation jointly issued by seven city majors and county magistrates in southern Taiwan, all of whom are members of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Citing "humanitarian" and "religious" considerations, the central government in Taipei approved the Dalai Lama's proposed visit to Taiwan earlier that same day.
(By Flor Wang)