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Drought in Northeast, Floods in South
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While millions in south China are battling with heavy rain and fatal floods, residents in the northeast are suffering from a sustained drought, the Office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said yesterday.

By the end of last week, severe drought had affected 10.4 million hectares of cropland nationwide, above average for this time of year.

And 83 percent of the total affected area is in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.

The drought means 7.34 million people and 6.75 million head of cattle are short of drinking water, said Zhang Zhitong, an official with the office.

Statistics indicate that about 370 reservoirs in the region are dry, and 984,000 hectares of farmland in Inner Mongolia cannot be planted due to a lack of water.

"The spring drought situation in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang equals that of 2001 and 2003," Zhang said. "The situation in Jilin and Liaoning provinces is more serious than in previous years."

More than 60 cities and counties in Heilongjiang Province are suffering the effects of the drought, officials said.

Local governments have spent to date 730 million yuan (US$91.1 million) on measures to ease the drought, the office said.

The Ministry of Finance will also allocate a large amount of relief funds for these affected areas, Zhang said.

Meanwhile in southern China, fresh rainfall is predicted in the next 10 days, raising fears of further disasters, meteorologists said on Monday.

Storms are forecast in east China's Fujian Province, the heaviest-hit area, reports said.

The rainy season in Fujian is predicted to last until June 25, local meteorologists said.

Rain and thunderstorms in the south have also caused delays at Beijing Capital International Airport.

By 3 PM yesterday, at least 100 flights had been postponed because of the weather, said airport official Liu Yanan.

In another development, floods caused by rainstorms left at least 19 people dead and 31 others missing in an ethnic minority prefecture in southwest China's Guizhou Province yesterday.

Sudden downpours hit Wangmo County, Qianxinan Bouyei and Miao Autonomous Prefecture at about 10 pm on Monday, and continued for four hours, causing several flash floods in the mountainous region, according to a Xinhua News Agency report.

Officials from local disaster-relief, transportation and power supply departments have rushed to the county to direct the flood-relief work.

(China Daily June 14, 2006)

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