Dalai Lama's nephew killed in US accident

A nephew of the Dalai Lama died in an accident late Monday when he was struck by a car while on a pro-Tibet march on a Florida highway, officials said.

The Highway Patrol said in a brief statement Tuesday that Jigme Norbu was walking on the edge of a local highway in north-eastern Florida when he was hit by an SUV at 7:26 pm Monday (0026 GMT Tuesday), and "was determined to be deceased upon the arrival of emergency services."

Norbu, 45, was the son of Takster Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama's eldest brother. He was on a Valentines Day "Walk for Tibet" with a small group of activists to raise awareness of human rights abuses in Tibet, according to an activist website.

The Dalai Lama was "saddened" to hear of his nephew's death and will remember him in his prayers on Tuesday, the spiritual leader's secretary told AFP in India.

"We got the message today," the Dalai Lama's personal secretary Chhime Rigzing told AFP by telephone. "He asked about how this had happened. He was saddened by the news.

"We have requested His Holiness to remember Mr Jigme (Norbu) in his prayers today."

Norbu was one of three sons, all of whom the Dalai Lama had met and knew personally, Rigzing said.

Norbu's father Takster Rinpoche, who advocated independence for Tibet, died in the US state of Indiana in 2008 at the age of 86.

The Florida Highway Patrol said that Norbu was a resident of Bloomington, Indiana.

The Dalai Lama champions a "middle path" policy that espouses "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet, rather than the full independence.

The February 14-26 "Walk for Tibet" was to cover 300 miles between the Florida coastal cities of St. Augustine and West Palm Beach, according to www.ambassadorsforworldpeace.org.

The walk was to include "many opportunities to share our message of world peace, human rights, and the Tibetan struggle for independence," the site said.

Norbu completed earlier similar walks, most recently a 300 mile march in Taiwan in December.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 following a failed uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule.

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