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North China combats worsening drought
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North China provinces have been combating a worsening drought that has caused water shortages for people and livestock and affected crops growth.

Shandong had invested 500 million yuan (US$70 million) in digging 280,000 wells and building hundreds of other water facilities, according to the provincial Water Resources Department.

The average rainfall was 17 millimeters in Shandong so far this year, about three quarters of the average for the time of year.

The provincial drought relief headquarters said the construction of water projects had helped solve water shortages for 250,000 people and 200,000 livestock.

Neighboring Hebei Province is also facing a severe drought, which has affected 3 million hectares of cropland and left residents in some areas short of drinking water.

It is the 12th consecutive spring drought for the province, according to the Hebei water resources department.

The province only had seven millimeters of rainfall on average since the winter, about 60 percent less than normal years.

The drought had lowered underground water levels by one to two meters in plain areas and left 50,000 wells useless.

In the northeast Province of Jilin, artificial rainmaking services have been on standby in case of favorable weather conditions.

Jilin had an average of 1.4 millimeters of rainfall from Jan. 1 to March 3, just 10 percent of the average for that time of year.

Since Wednesday, Liaoning Province, which neighbors Jilin, has carried out artificial rainfall operations in many areas, which had brought 120 million cubic meters of rainfall.

(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2008)

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