More than half a ton of herbal ointments is being used to preserve the body of the late Panchen Lama, the official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday.

Xinhua said the preservatives included borneol, sandalwood powder and safflowers.It said 1,220 pounds of preservatives were delivered by car to the Tashi Lump Monastery in Xigaze, Tibet, where the Panchen Lama died Jan. 28.

The Panchen Lama was the second-highest ranking leader in Tibetan Buddhism, behind the exiled Dalai Lama. He died of a heart attack at age 50. The government has said it will build a shrine to house his body.

Xinhua said several experienced monks had begun the preservation procedure. It earlier said the body would be wrapped in fine silks and satins and the face painted with golden powder after it is preserved.

Hundreds of monks and thousands of laity paid last respects to the Panchen Lama in ceremonies in Xigaze and Lhasa on Friday. He was revered as the 10th incarnation of the Buddhist god Amitabha.

The government has indicated it will allow the selection of a successor, which traditionally involves identifying a child believed to be a new reincarnation.