Receding water levels of Yangtze in China reveal three Buddhist statues as heatwave continues | World News

Falling water levels of the Yangtze River in China has revealed a submerged island with three Buddhist statues believed to be 600 years old.

Parts of the Yangtze – the world’s third longest river – has been drying up amid a severe heatwave which has led to the issuing of a nationwide drought alert.

The three statues were found on the highest part of the island reef in China’s southwestern city of Chongqing.

One of the statues on the island – called Foyeliang – depicts a monk sitting on a lotus pedestal.

The heatwave is the most extreme in six decades and has seen temperatures regularly exceed 40C (104F) in a number of cities.

Forecasters have warned the sweltering conditions could last well into September amid fears of a “grave situation” in the Sichuan province over the loss of water to the hydropower system.

Authorities have been working to maintain power and find fresh water to irrigate crops ahead of the autumn harvest.

The severe heatwave across the Yangtze basin has been caused by a larger-than-usual Western Pacific subtropical high.

It has lasted for over two months, reducing hydropower supplies and parching large expanses of arable land.

The Yangtze River supports about a third of the country’s population.

A once submerged Buddhist statue sits on top of Foyeliang island reef in the Yangtze river, which appeared after water levels fell due to a regional drought in Chongqing, China, in this screengrab obtained from a video taken with a drone, August 20, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Suen

Officials in Beijing have warned of the increasing risk of extreme weather in China as a result of climate change – while heavy rainfall has continued to take its toll in other parts of the country.

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Water levels on the main trunk of the Yangtze and the flood basin lakes of Dongting and Poyang are now at least 4.85 metres (16ft) shallower than normal – and the lowest on record for the period, officials have said.

Rainfall in the basin has been around 45% lower than normal since July, according to forecasters.

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