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China builds world's largest ice Santa Clause

updated: 2008-12-26

Harbin is building what organisers say is the world's largest Santa Clause ice sculpture this winter.

The giant Father Christmas, 160 metres (525 ft) long and 24 metres high, centres on an enormous face of Father Christmas, complete with flowing beard and hat.

Its huge size and unseasonably warm temperatures have made the job especially challenging, said Tang Guangjun, one of the sculptors.

"It is even bigger and higher than last year's, and more difficult. The weather swings between warm and cold, so it becomes very wet and slippery on the ice. It is very dangerous for us," he told Reuters Television.

Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province on the edge of Siberia, is one of China's coldest places. Winter temperatures can drop to below minus 35 degrees Celsius (- 31 F).

Every year the city plays host to a world-renowned ice festival. But the effects of global warming are taking a toll as the snow and ice now melt more rapidly than in the past.

Still, the sculpture has attracted thousands of tourists from all over the country who want to enjoy a white Christmas despite worries over the economic downturn. The festival traditionally runs from mid-December to early February.

 

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