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Severe Drought in Eastern and Southern China
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Extensive areas of eastern and southern China have been hit by drought and it's likely to continue in the weeks ahead.


In total approximately 6.7 million hectares in east China's Fujian Province have been affected by the drought. So far 8,970 hectares are considered serious and nearly 1,200 hectares have been scorched. A total of 70,000 people are short of drinking water, local drought relief authorities said Wednesday.


In mid-November, 35 of the province's 67 major cities and counties (including county-level cities) had recorded no rainfall for 16-31 consecutive days. Twenty-five counties and cities had seen no rain for more than 45 days in a row. There’s been no rain in Fuzhou, the provincial capital, for more than 2 months, the authorities said.


Fujian has set aside 12.76 million yuan (US$1.6 million) and enrolled 161,000 people to assist combat drought, the authorities added.


Precipitation averaged only 15.7 millimeters in east China's Zhejiang Province between October 1 and early November. This is down 82 percent on the seasonal average, according to the provincial meteorological observatory.


And the average temperature in Zhejiang stood at 21 degrees Celsius in the period. This is 2.8 degrees higher than average, the local observatory said.


Earlier reports said that since early September a severe drought had continued in eastern Shandong province leaving over 1.9 million people short of drinking water, according to local drought relief authorities.


The drought has affected more than 2.67 million hectares of crops and left over 1.15 million domestic animals short of drinking water, the sources said.


Shandong has only registered 18 mm of rainfall in the past two months. This is 81 percent down on the historical average for the period, added the sources.


As one of China's major grain producing areas Shandong accounts for one-tenth of the country's total grain output. Plans for 3.33 million hectares of winter wheat have been ruined by the autumn drought -- 233,000 hectares have not been seeded and much of the planted wheat is suffering from a lack of water.


The province has invested 700 million yuan (US$87.5 million) in anti-drought efforts. This is in addition to over 14 million yuan allocated by the central government.


South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has also been affected by severe drought which is likely to persist this month because of unseasonably warm temperatures, according to water resource authorities.


Since August the drought has affected 78 of the region's 84 counties including county-level cities, the sources said.


From mid August to early November, rainfall in Guangxi ranged from zero to 156.8 millimeters, 20 to 90 percent below the seasonal average. Between October 1 and November 6 temperatures averaged 24 degrees Celsius in the region. This is 2.5 degrees higher than a year earlier.


Water stored in reservoirs dropped to 4.8 billion cubic meters which is just 48 percent of their storage capacity.


The regional government has earmarked 10 million yuan (US$1.3 million) for emergency water supplies and for the use of oil and electricity to combat arid conditions.


Drought has hit other parts of China recently. According to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) rainfall of less than 20 millimeters was recorded in northeast and north China, the valleys of the Yellow, Huaihe and Yangtze rivers and parts of central and south China in October.


The rainfall in these areas was 50 to 90 percent down on the monthly average while the temperature was two to four degrees centigrade higher, according to the CMA.


(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2006)

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