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Severe Droughts Hit Southern China

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters on Tuesday announced that eight provinces and autonomous regions in southern China are now suffering severe droughts due to continuous high temperatures and little rainfall.  

Statistics issued by the headquarters Tuesday show that a total of 3.7 million hectares of farmland in the provinces of Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Yunnan and Guizhou and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have been affected by droughts. Altogether 6.3 million local residents and 2.7 million head of livestock were encountering a potable water shortage.


Among these provinces and autonomous regions, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Fujian were more severely hit as about 30 percent of farmland dried out.


Meanwhile, about 40,000 hectares of aquatic farming area in Fujian was affected by drought, making up 30 percent of the province's total aquatic farming areas.


Since Fujian's daily power shortage reached 1.5 million kilowatt/hour, daily consumption has been cut by 20 percent, causing local factories to reduce operation and a daily economic loss of 360 million yuan (about US$43.4 million).


Since the end of June, China's southern areas have been blanketed by high temperatures and received little rainfall. During the past 40 days, some areas in southern China received less than 25 mm of rainfall, 50-80 percent less than average.


The temperatures in most areas of southern China have stayed atabove 35 degrees Centigrade for more than 20 days. Record temperatures exceeding 40 degrees C. have been reported in some areas of southern China.


According to the meteorological forecast, high temperatures and low rainfall will continue for several days in southern China.


The ability of southern China provinces to resist drought was weak because the area normally enjoyed high rainfall, and the drought there may intensify.


The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters on Tuesday urged relevant departments in drought-stricken areas to work hard to fight droughts.


So far 12.91 million people in the eight provinces and autonomous regions have been mobilized to fight droughts, and 40,000 water pumping stations and 15,000 water transfer vehicles have been put into use.


According to preliminary statistics, a total of 420 million yuan (about US$50.6 million) has been earmarked by local governments to relieve the severe droughts.


For now, the temporary potable water shortage of 3.32 million people and 700,000 head of livestock has been eased.


(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2003)

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