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Drought Affects 4.8 Million People
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A drought hitting several Chinese provinces has left 4.8 million people and 4.8 million livestock short of drinking water, according to the state drought relief headquarters.


Eleven million hectares of crops have been affected by drought in Gansu, Hebei, Henan and Liaoning, as well as other provinces in northeastern, northern and northwestern China, the headquarters said yesterday.


The drought has caused a shortage of potable water for 500,000 people in north China's Hebei Province, said the province's drought relief office.


More than 200 small reservoirs have dried up, the office said.


From May 1 to 13, the average rainfall in Hebei was only eight millimeters or just 55 percent of normal rainfall, while the average temperature was 25.7 ℃, three to five degrees higher than normal.


The water resources authority of Handan, in southern Hebei, has decided to divert 20 million cubic meters of water from Changzhi in neighboring Shanxi Province in the next two months to alleviate its water shortage.


"Little rainfall and higher-than-normal temperatures are the main cause of the drought that began at the end of last month," said Ye Dianxiu, a meteorologist.


Average temperatures over the past month have been one to 2 ℃ higher than previous years while rainfall was down 30 to 50 percent in most of the drought-affected areas, Ye said.


He said the drought would continue for at least another 10 days as no significant rainfall is forecast.


The average temperature last month across China was 11.1 ℃, 0.9 degrees higher than normal for the period, according to the Central Meteorological Observatory.


(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2007)

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