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Last Updated: Monday, 11 July, 2005, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Safety warning over sea statues
One of the statues on Crosby beach
Three teenagers were rescued after becoming stuck in mud
People visiting seaside sculptures off the Merseyside coast have been asked to take care after three teenagers had to be rescued by coastguards on Sunday.

The 100 naked cast iron figures by artist Antony Gormley were installed off Crosby Beach in June.

Three girls were rescued at the weekend after they walked out to see the figures and got trapped in the mud.

Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby, has called for the statues to stay permanently in the region.

She told the House of Commons on Monday the statues had already attracted interest from art lovers all over the country.

The beach was always known to be dangerous
Liverpool Coastguard
The MP called for Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell to visit the site and see the installation for herself.

"We would dearly like to keep these statues there and we would like to raise the funds with her assistance," she added.

Ms Jowell said she was a fan of the artist and was planning to visit the sculptures.

Liverpool Coastguard said on Monday that it was advising people not to swim or walk on areas of the beach where the mud was soft.

"The beach was always known to be dangerous, it's a red flag beach and unfortunately there have been some quite serious incidents in this area," said Sue Todd, the coastguard's operations manager.

Amateur video footage of girls stuck in mud on Crosby beach
An amateur cameraman filmed the girls struggling to escape the mud

"Our feeling is we've always been concerned for the safety of personnel and now that the statues are here our priority is to minimise the risk to people.

"We encourage people to come and view them and enjoy the seaside but to do so safely and sensibly."

Liverpool Coastguard said a lifeboat also had to be launched after two teenagers swam out to see the statues.

Gormley has previously found fame as the designer of Gateshead's Angel of the North.

Called "Another Place", his recent exhibition of life-size statues has also been displayed off the coasts of Belgium, Norway and Germany.

Each statue - which weighs 650kg and stands 1.96m tall - is a cast of the artist's own body and contractors spent three weeks installing them.

The figures spread 3km along the coastline and 1km out to sea.

They are partly submerged at different times of day, depending on changing tides and weather conditions.

Statue hunters rescued from mud
10 Jul 05 |  Merseyside
Gormley unveils seaside artwork
01 Jul 05 |  Merseyside
Iron figures rise from the sand
13 Jun 05 |  Merseyside

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