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Prolonged drought hits north and east China
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Six provinces in north and east China are battling a prolonged drought that has affected water supplies for people, livestock and agriculture.

Nearly 1 million people and 160,000 head of livestock in Shanxi have faced difficulties getting drinking water due to the prolonged drought since October, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said on Wednesday.

The province has had no rain since late November, it said, and the drought has affected 520,000 ha of wheat land, 140,000 ha severely.

Irrigation facilities were fully commissioned and new wells were dug. Staff are being organized to transport drinking water to people who have difficulties getting it.

The drought has also hit other provinces such as Shandong, Henan, Hebei, Anhui and Gansu, all major wheat producers.

Anhui water resource authorities said the affected areas had mobilized more than 600,000 people and commissioned 30,000 wells to combat drought, with subsidies for farmers in certain areas.

The Ministry of Agriculture said Tuesday the six provinces had had 5.42 million ha of drought-hit cropland, almost five times the area last year.

The ministry said it had dispatched working teams to the provinces to help with the drought relief work.

A full calculation of the number of people short of drinking water is not available.

(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2009)

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