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$54m facelift for world's tallest Buddha statue

The Straits Times, Sunday 1 April 2001

CHENGDU - China has begun its facelift for world's highest Buddha statue in Leshan, a city in south-west China's Sichuan province.

The 1,280-year-old statue, sitting on a cliff and measuring 71 m tall and 28 m across, is 18 m higher than the standing Buddha statue at Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan, once thought to be the highest of its kind in the world.

Included in the World Cultural Heritage list, the statue has for years suffered damage from wind, water, acid rain and tramplings by visitors.

Some coiled buns on the head of the statue fell down and the face was darkened.

Experts will clean the body of the statue, piece up the cracks and install drainage devices and protection facilities against wind and water.

The repair project is divided into two stages, to be conducted this month and at the end of this year. It will cost a total of 250 million yuan (S$54 million), including US$2 million (S$3.6 million) of World Bank loans.

Carving of the Buddha started in 713 and was completed in 803, during the Tang Dynasty.

The statue has been repaired many times in history. However, an effective way to prevent erosion to the statue had not been found, experts said. --Xinhua