Page last updated at 14:47 GMT, Tuesday, 21 February 2006

How using sand can fight bird flu

Mr Patnaik is also making sculptures of hens and eggs

An Indian sand artist has built a huge sand sculpture of a rooster on a beach in Puri city, a resort in Orissa state, to create awareness of bird flu.

Sudarshan Patnaik is well known for his sand replica of the Taj Mahal and sculptures on topical issues such as the 2004 Asian tsunami.

It took him five hours and eight tons of sand to create the sand rooster.

On Saturday, the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus was first found in Navapur town in western Indian state of Maharashtra.

"This sand sculpture is basically to create awareness about bird flu because a lot of people don't even know about this disease. And a beach is a place where a lot of domestic and international tourists come," Mr Patnaik told the Reuters news agency.

Venkat Raman, a tourist, told Reuters: "The way they have built these sculptures, the right message is coming across. It's a very nice way to convey this to the people."

The sand rooster is displayed on the beach along with posters cautioning against the spread of bird flu.

Mr Patnaik and 20 of his assistants are also making sand hens and eggs to exhibit with the rooster.

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