C. China suffers prolonged drought‎

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The Yangtze River, China's longest, has been plagued by a severe drought, with the lowest level of rainfall this year since 1961, an official with the river's flood control and drought relief headquarters said Monday.

The spring drought has affected Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei provinces in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, with forty to sixty percent less rainfall on average, said Wang Guosheng, chief director with the headquarters.

The drought has jeopardized rice crops in central China's Hunan and Hubei provinces, two major rice-growing regions in the country.

China's Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project, began to increase its water release on Friday to ease severe drought plaguing downstream rice-growing areas.

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