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China Allocates Typhoon, Droughts Relief Funds
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The Chinese government on Wednesday allocated 120 million yuan (US$15 million) to help provinces fight natural disasters.

Zhejiang and Fujian provinces were hit by Typhoon Saomai and Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu have suffered severe droughts.

The funds are being allocated by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Finance.

Typhoon Saomai, the strongest one to hit China in 50 years, slammed into Cangnan County of Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, at 5:25 PM last Thursday and was downgraded to a tropical depression after causing millions of economic losses.

It had killed 319 people by 10 PM on Tuesday after another 24 bodies were found in Fuding City of east China's Fujian Province.

In the meantime, searing heat and drought have hit other parts of China and they are forecast to continue.

Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia in the north and northwest China have been affected by droughts in the past few days.

The Yangtze, China's longest river, has been suffering a rare drought with water in many sections of the river at lowest ever levels.

Weather forecasts offer little hope of rainfall in the next few days in the upper and middle reaches of the river, including Sichuan, Hubei provinces and Chongqing Municipality.

The temperatures in Chongqing hovered around 41 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, while in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province, temperatures were expected to hit 39 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.

The extreme conditions have also affected the drinking water supply of about 7.8 million people in Chongqing and Hunan Province.

More than 7.5 million people in 40 counties in Chongqing have suffered restrictions on drinking water since severe drought started in mid May.

On Sunday, after a power cut led to equipment failure, the water supply was shut down in Huaihua, a city in central China's Hunan Province, leaving about 150,000 people, 40 percent of the local population - without water for three days.

(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2006)

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