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Drought Leaves over 1m Short of Drinking Water
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The worst summer drought to hit Northeast China's Liaoning Province in 30 years has left more than one million people short of drinking water, the provincial government has said.


Nearly all its 14 cities have been affected by the drought, though the situation is more serious in the northwestern and central-southern parts of the province where 88 small and medium-sized reservoirs have dried up, the provincial flood prevention and drought control headquarters said yesterday.


The drought has affected 1.27 million people, 473,800 head of cattle and 1.4 million hectares of cropland, it said.


The government has managed to transport water from humid areas in the eastern part of the province, but so far only 88,500 of the affected population have gained access to water ferried in by water wagons.


The provincial government has sent more than 500,000 workers to fight the drought, by digging extra wells and sending water wagons to the worst-hit areas.


Local drought prevention experts have blamed the drought on high temperatures and inadequate rainfall this month.


The provincial meteorological bureau said summer had arrived 26 days earlier than normal this year and the high temperature in most cities topped 30 C with little rain in the past two weeks.


Liaoning suffered its heaviest snowstorm in half a century in March, but persistent high temperatures in the late spring and early summer quickly reduced soil moisture, it said.


The provincial committee for rural economic development said the drought would seriously endanger grain production.


"Some crops could wither and die if the drought continues," an official with the provincial water resources department said.


The provincial meteorological station in Shenyang has forecast no rainfall in the coming week and a high of 35 C in the western areas.


Heilongjiang Province in northernmost China has also seen signs of a drought. Its drought control officials said the situation would worsen if there was no rain before the end of the month.


(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2007)

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