China initiated a fourth-level emergency response plan Sunday afternoon to cope with the drought in southwest Guizhou Province.
A girl walks on a drought water reservoir in Qianxi County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 28, 2011. Serious drought hit Guizhou in July. [Xinhua]
The fourth level is the lowest in the country's emergency response system.
According to a statement jointly issued by the National Commission for Disaster Reduction and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, as part of the emergency response program the two departments have sent a working group to the province to assess the situation and assist ongoing disaster relief efforts.
Local civil affairs authorities in Guizhou reported that, as of Sunday at noon, the persisting drought from June in the province's 57 counties had affected 8.37 million people and 1.82 million people are suffering from a limited supply of drinking water, the statement said.
The statement said the drought has also caused direct economic losses of 1.82 billion yuan (282.8 million U.S. dollars), the statement said.