Kek Lok Si temple in Air Itam, Penang, ravaged by fire


Penang is arguably one of the most famous tourist spots in the country due to its diverse culture and plenty of good food. Home to various heritage sites in Malaysia, the state is often a must-visit spot for beautiful houses of worship of different religions. Sadly, one of the largest and oldest temples in Penang, Kek Lok Si Temple, was ravaged by an early morning fire that damaged 70% of one of its structures.


Prominent Buddhist temple in Penang affected by early morning fire


Kek Lok Si temple in Penang
Image credit: Wikipedia

Earlier today, New Straits Times reported that the Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam, Penang, was caught up in an early morning fire that damaged an estimated 70% of one of its temples before mitigation efforts were initiated. The rescue team from the Paya Terubong Fire and Rescue station was informed of the incident before 3AM – around which time the fire was expected to have started.

Upon their arrival, one of the temples at the hilltop was said to have been destroyed by nearly 70% before they start putting out the fire. It is confirmed that no one was injured during the incident but there is a lot of property loss.

The exact cause of the fire was not known yet until one of the temple trustees clarified to the media that the fire could have been caused by rats. A report by Free Malaysia Today quotes Steven Ooi from the Kek Lok Si Temple that rats may have “knocked over an oil lamp before a Kuan Yin statue at the prayer hall” which is thought to be the reason behind the incident.

Besides, Ooi also clarified that the whole temple is still intact and that only a small area that is “big enough to fit three regular-sized people” was ravaged by the fire.

Kek Lok Si temple affected by fire
Image credit: Lee Beng Poh

The Kek Lok Si Temple built in the late 19th-century serves as an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists in Southeast Asia, apart from being a famous tourist spot in Penang.

Its seven-storey tower, also known as the Pagoda of Rama VI, with 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha and the 36.57m-tall bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy, are some of the main attractions of the temple.

Kek Lok Si temple damaged by fire
Image credit: Seang Cskuah 


130-year-old Kek Lok Si temple in Penang ravaged by fire


It is truly heartbreaking to learn that one of the largest and prominent Buddhist pilgrimage spots in Malaysia has been affected by a fire. Our hearts go out to the people of Penang and fellow Buddhist Malaysians who are deeply saddened by this unfortunate incident. We hope that the affected areas in the temple can be restored with everyone’s collective efforts soon.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that 70% of the temple was damaged. It should be 70% of one of the temple’s structures was damaged.

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Cover image adapted from: Wikipedia, Lee Beng Poh and Seang Cskuah

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