KUCHING, MALAYSIA: Four 200-year-old Punan kelirieng (burial totem poles) and 37 units of the Punan Bah longhouse in Belaga were destroyed by fire on Monday morning.
Though the identity of those buried in the kelirieng was unknown, it is believed that they were four great Punan aristocrats.
"The fire started at 11am on Monday.
"Though no lives were lost, the fire left 200 people homeless," said Punan National Association secretary Donny Dhwie yesterday.
"Estimated losses could reach RM500,000 or more," he added.
Punan Bah is the largest and oldest longhouse in Sarawak, situated 80km from Kapit and accessible only via Batang Rajang.
It is made entirely of belian wood or iron wood.
The estimated population of the settlement is approximately 1,000 people.
Belaga district officer Sami Siba told the New Straits Times that survivors of the fire were currently in need of food and clothing.
Those who wish to send a donation to victims of the Punan Bah fire can contact Donny at 013 823 0155 or visit the Punan National Association website at www.punan.info.