Flood waters reach to toes of famous giant Buddha statue in Leshan, China

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Flooding has engulfed much of the region this year, and the latest round has forced local officials to raise the risk level and evacuate residents around the upper reaches of the river.

It also caused the water to touch the toes of the Leshan Giant Buddha, which state media Xinhua said has not happened for at least seven decades.

The 233-foot-tall seated Buddha was carved into a hill on Mount Emei around 1,200 years ago and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in China’s Sichuan Province.

It usually sits comfortably above the waters of the Yangtze and tourists congregate at its base.

But the area was closed to visitors on Monday in response to the rising waters. Officials hope it will reopen later this week after the security assessments are completed, they wrote on Chinese social network Weibo.

Summer flooding is not uncommon in the region, but recent months have brought particular challenges.

The wider Yangtze River basin – which includes Lake Poyang and stretches over 3,900 miles from Shanghai in the east to the Tibetan border in the west – accounts for 70% of the country’s rice production.

Shanshan Wang of CNN contributed to this report.

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