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Rain Eases Drought, Situation Still Tense

The one-week downpour in southern China has begun to ease severe conditions in the drought-stricken area, meteorologists said.
Medium to heavy rain began falling last Friday, bringing relief to a region that has been dry for more than two months, Professor Zhang Qiang with the Chinese National Meteorological Administration said yesterday.
"The drought this autumn can be regarded as the worst in the southern part of the country since 1951," Zhang said.
Eastern areas have also been hit along with Guangdong, Hainan, Jiangxi and Anhui provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region this autumn.
"Many areas in the southern part of the Yangtze River saw very limited rain in October, 80-90 per cent less than in previous years," Zhang said.
In Jiangxi Province alone, drought has affected more than 202,000 hectares of crops and 620,000 people and 260,000 livestock have been short of drinking water.
But a cold front has moved from Mongolia to the southeast, bringing rain to the south and lower temperatures in the north.
The northern and northeastern regions are expected to see temperatures dropping by 6 to 10 C in the next few days, meteorologists have predicted.
The rain is expected to last for at least another two days. Not all areas have seen enough. Guangdong and southern Guangxi have reaped only meager rice harvests and have still fallen short of the water they need.
The meteorological administration has predicted that most parts of China may witness a warm winter this year caused by the coming El Nino and global warming.
The warm winter could make drought conditions worse, increase the risk of forest and grassland fires and trigger a spread of animal disease, they said.
A dry winter can also cause more respiratory diseases, medical experts said.
The State Council, China's cabinet, held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss work on drought relief and water conservancy for the coming winter and spring.
Before the meeting, Premier Wen Jiabao said attention must be paid to the problem every measure taken to reduce damage to late autumn crops.
The government has also increased relief funds and provided enough material for victims in drought-hit provinces to meet their needs in the coming winter.
The government has called on people to save as much water as possible.
Governments at all levels have been called on to improve their management of water utilities to guarantee the daily water supply in urban and rural areas, Hui said.
New strategies such as artificial rain, dam-building and irrigation will be introduced to provide more administrative support and scientific aid, officials with the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said.
In the past, flood control has been achieved by using methods to alter natural conditions, such as building dams.
There has been more damage from flood and drought since 1990, and it now accounts for 4 per cent of the GDP, much higher than in most developed countries.
(China Daily November 12, 2004))


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