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Drought Leaves 1.6 Mln People Short of Drinking Water
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More than 1.6 million people in western

China are facing drinking water shortages due to a severe drought, local government sources said.


The worst drought in 60 years has hit the central and eastern areas of the northwestern province of Gansu, leaving nearly 900,000 people short of drinking water and affecting 1.46 million hectares of cropland, according to the Gansu provincial flood control and drought relief office.


Qingyang, Pingliang and Tianshui in eastern Gansu have not seen any significant rainfall for the past two months, the office said.


Crops are expected to fail on about 80,000 hectares while another 100,000 hectares will not even be planted because of the drought, it said.


In worst-hit Qingyang, it's costing residents 80 to 110 yuan (US$10.3 to 14.2) for a cubic meter of water.


Though there was moderate rainfall over the past few days, it did little to alleviate the drought in worst-hit areas, the office said.


Drought is also plaguing the southwestern province of Sichuan, which saw its worst drought in half a century last summer.


Seventy-two counties of Sichuan have not had rain for 20 to 28 days, said Zuo Xiong, deputy director of the Sichuan provincial meteorological station.


As of Sunday, 760,000 people and 810,000 livestock in Sichuan faced drinking water shortages, according to an official with the provincial water resource department.


The two provinces are considering trying to make artificial rainfall to alleviate the drought.


(Xinhua News Agency May 25, 2007)

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