Drought continues in central, southern China (3)

13:08, October 20, 2009      

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Meanwhile, sustained drought along the Xiangjiang River has caused a severe shortage of drinking water for more than 3 million people in the cities of Changsha, Zhuzhou and Xiangtan.

As of Monday, a stretch of at least 5 kilometers of dry riverbed on the Xiangjiang River was dotted with stranded vessels. In Changsha, the provincial capital, people even planted vegetables in the riverbed.

In the southern province of Guangdong, rainfall has decreased by more than 20 percent from the average, threatening to halve crop harvests.

"It's the worst drought in 40 years," said Chen Sanmei, a villager in Conghua City. Chen and her family worked into the night Monday to harvest grain and peanuts. At least half of the peanut shells they harvested were empty. "But we take whatever we can get, otherwise they'll all die in the fields."

The small river Chen's village relies on for irrigation has run dry.

In Quanzhou, a city in Fujian Province on the southeastern coast, drought threatens to damage 16,600 hectares of cropland and leave 14,500 people thirsty, the local flood prevention and drought relief office said.

Six of the city's 18 major reservoirs have dried up and water storage in the other 12 is half the normal volume.

The central meteorological bureau has predicted drizzle to moderate rain in parts of Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces in the next three days, which could help relieve the drought.

Source: Xinhua
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