China record floods wet feet of Leshan Giant Buddha

Giant Buddha carved from rock with floodwater around its base (18 Aug)

A giant statue of Buddha in China has had its toes dampened by floodwater for the first time since the 1940s.

The 71m-tall statue, a Unesco heritage site, was carved out of a rockface near Chengdu in Sichuan province around the eighth century AD.

It is normally high above the waterline, but the area has been hit by the worst flooding in 70 years.

More than 100,000 people have had to be moved to safety.

The statue is a hugely popular attraction and often included in cruises along the nearby Yangtze river and Three Gorges.

State media said 180 tourists had be rescued from the site as waters rose.

Tourist boats next to the Leshan Buddha in February
The statue normally sits high above the waterline, as seen here in February
Tourists burn offerings at the feet of the Giant Buddha in 2016
Tourists and pilgrims arrive by boat to burn offerings at the Buddha’s feet
The feet of the Giant Buddha
The last time the toes – each bigger than a person – got wet was 1949
Waters reach the platform of the statue (12 Aug)
But last week waters reached the base of the statue and kept rising

According to the Xinhua state news agency, a traditional local saying holds that if the Buddha’s feet get wet, Chengdu – which has a population of 16 million people – will flood too.

Sichuan province has activated its highest level emergency response after weeks of heavy rain caused record high water levels, with no sign of it ending soon.

Rescuers help evacuated villagers get off boats onto land in Sichuan (18 August)
Rescuers have been despatched to help people evacuate from at-risk areas

Flood alerts are in place for provinces around the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Songhua and Liao rivers, with warnings of possible landslides.

Flooding in Chongqing (14 Aug)
Chongqing has already battled several waves of flooding this summer

The statue, just outside Chengdu, is a hugely popular attraction and often included in cruises along the nearby Yangtze.

Officials have warned that huge volumes of water are building up behind the Three Gorges dam – a massive hydroelectric project on the Yangtze.

The Ministry of Water Resources has warned this could lead to severe flooding upstream, including the major city of Chongqing

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