Rescuing Buddha

Chinese authorities will give a facelift to the world's tallest stone-carved Buddha just six years after the last repairs as they struggle to mitigate the effects of pollution and crowding, state media reported. Carved from a cliff beside a river, the 71-metre image of the seated Buddha at Leshan in the southwestern province of Sichuan draws lots of tourists. But despite a 250-million-yuan (us $33.6-million) operation in 2001, the statue is already suffering a "blackened nose' and smears of dirt across its solemn face, Xinhua reported. Now another facelift is promised.

But Peng Xueyi, director, Leshan Cultural Relics Management Institute, was quoted by Xinhua as having said the crumbling statue could only survive if it was screened from air and rain laced with corrosive chemicals. "Only through a comprehensive reformation of the surrounding environment can its ageing process be delayed,' Peng said.