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China's giant Buddha 'needs makeover'

Some visitors say the latest rennovation work makes the statue look too young
Some visitors say the latest rennovation work makes the statue look too young

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BEIJING, China -- The world's tallest statue of the Buddha, a 1,200 year old figure carved into a cliff in southwestern China, needs long-term skin-care treatment if it is to survive for future generations, Chinese scientists say.

Despite a recent $25,000 facelift the giant Leshan Buddha, which towers over Sichuan province, is in danger of crumbling to pieces unless the work begins urgently, scientists told the official Xinhua news agency.

"We don't have the cure-all to protect it from wind and acid rain damage yet," Wu Shengli, deputy director of the Leshan Buddha Statue scenic area administration told Xinhua.

"Regular skin care is the only way to keep it from aging."

The Leshan statue is widely regarded as the tallest statue of the Buddha anywhere in the world.

At 71 meters (234 feet) it is more than 17 meters higher than the biggest of the two Buddhas that once towered over the town of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan.

Despite international appeals the two Bamiyan statues were destroyed last year by the then ruling Taliban regime who claimed the figures were "un-Islamic."

Officials say that preserving the Leshan statue to ensure that it too does not disappear will cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to Wu, just one full body makeover will cost around $250,000 and the work will need to be done continuously in order to preserve the statue.

Last year scientists completed a massive $30 million project to clean up the statue and install drainage devices on the Buddha's face to protect it from wind and rain.

However, although many have got used to the statue's new look some visitors say the facelift has made the Buddha look too young for a 1,200-year old statue.

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