China: Historic floods wet feet of giant Buddha statue first time in 70 years

A 71 metre tall statue stature of Buddha in China has had its toes dampened by floodwater for the first time since the 1940s.

The 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.

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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.

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.

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