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NE China Hit with Severe Drought

The most severe drought in 40 years hit northeast China this spring and the situation is worsening, the national climate center said Tuesday.

In Tongliao, in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is one of the leading animal husbandry bases in China. More than 70 large and small reservoirs in the area have dried up. Four-fifths of the grassland is so dry that farmers were forced to leave 400,000 hectares of farmland idle.

Zhang Qiang, a senior official with the national climate center, said that lack of rainfall and high temperatures are responsible for the drought. Since March 1, most northern provinces have recorded only 20 to 50 millimeters of rainfall, some 50 to 90 percent less than the average in recent years.

China's Central Meteorological Station forecasts no more than 10 millimeters of rainfall in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces in the next ten days, while temperatures are expected to remain unusually high.

Weather forecasts indicate that some southern provinces, such as Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangxi, may also be struck by drought.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2004)

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