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.—Reuters

Plunging water levels of the Yangtze River have revealed a submerged island in China’s southwestern city of Chongqing and a trio of Buddhist statues on it that are believed to be 600 years old, state media Xinhua has reported.

The three statues were found on the highest part of the island reef called Foyeliang, initially identified as built during the Ming and Qing dynasties. One of the statues depicts a monk sitting on a lotus pedestal.

The Yangtze’s water levels have been falling rapidly due to a drought and a heatwave in China’s southwestern region.

Rainfall in the Yangtze basin has been around 45pc lower than normal since July, and high temperatures are likely to persist for at least another week, official forecasts said. As many as 66 rivers across 34 counties in Chongqing have dried up, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Weeks of baking drought across Europe have also revealed long-submerged treasures.

SPANISH STONEHENGE: In Spain, archaeologists have been delighted by the emergence of a prehistoric stone circle dubbed the “Spanish Stonehenge”. Another of Europe’s mighty rivers, the Danube, has fallen to one of its lowest levels in almost a century, exposing the hulks of more than 20 German warships sunk during World War Two near Serbia’s river port town of Prahovo.

The DOLMEN of Guadalperal, also known as the Spanish Stonehenge, is seen after the waters of a reservoir started receding in El Gordo, Spain.—Reuters

A brutal summer has caused havoc for many in rural Spain, but one unexpected side-effect of the country’s worst drought in decades has delighted archaeologists — the emergence of a prehistoric stone circle in a dam whose waterline has receded.

Officially known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal but dubbed the Spanish Stonehenge, the circle of dozens of megalithic stones is believed to date back to 5000 BC.

It currently sits fully exposed in one corner of the Valdecanas reservoir, in the central province of Caceres, where authorities say the water level has dropped to 28 percent of capacity.

“It’s a surprise, it’s a rare opportunity to be able to access it,” said archaeologist Enrique Cedillo from Madrid’s Complutense University, one of the experts racing to study the circle before it gets submerged again.

It was discovered by German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier in 1926, but the area was flooded in 1963 in a rural development project under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. Since then it has only become fully visible four times.

Dolmens are vertically arranged stones usually supporting a flat boulder. Although there are many scattered across Western Europe, little is known about who erected them. Human remains found in or near many have led to an often-cited theory that they are tombs.

Local historical and tourism associations have advocated moving the Guadalperal stones to a museum or elsewhere on dry land.

Their presence is also good news for Ruben Argentas, who owns a small boat tours business. “The dolmen emerges and the dolmen tourism begins,” he said after a busy day spent shuttling tourists to the site and back. But there is no silver lining for local farmers.

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