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Sichuan Takes to Skies to Cure Drought
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The biggest drought in five years is affecting 53 cities and counties in southwest China's Sichuan Province.


The Sichuan provincial government has decided to use planes to induce artificial rainfall in hard-hit regions.

According to the provincial disaster relief office, the drought started in early March, affecting Chengdu, Mianyang, Deyang, Leshan, Meishan, Yibin and Suining.


Xindu District and Pengzhou, which are under Chengdu's administration, and Shifang, a city under Deyang's administration, have suffered from drought for 60 consecutive days.


Due to high temperatures and inadequate rainfall, more than 1.1 million people are experiencing difficulty in securing drinking water.


A total of 413,333 hectares of crops have been affected by the drought and 26,667 hectares will have no yields at all, said the provincial disaster relief office.


The long drought is closely related to abnormal weather last winter and this spring, said Zhong Xiaoping, deputy chief of the Sichuan provincial meteorological bureau.


As the drought, which will last about 20 days, is set to worsen, the provincial disaster relief office and the province office in charge of efforts to change the weather have decided to rely on Y7-100 planes to induce artificial rainfall in affected areas.


The maneuver proved a success as rainfall rose by 30 and 50 percent within 3 hours, the bureau said.


To control the drought, Sichuan will rely on between five and 10 planes to induce rainfall before mid-June.


All the planes will be loaded with automatic liquefied nitrogen distributing equipment, a global positioning system (GPS) and weather measuring systems.


The bureau said that the province would start inducing rainfall immediately if the weather is suitable for the maneuver.


(China Daily May 24, 2006)

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