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Rain to relieve drought in North China
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16:14, August 19, 2009

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Drought-hit regions in northern China are forecast to have moderate to heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday, the National Meteorological Center said Tuesday.

The regions include Inner Mongolia autonomous region where more than 200,000 livestock have died due to drought, Heilongjiang province where 1.47 million hectares of farmland were hit by drought, Liaoning and Jilin provinces.

A severe drought has hit China's northern part, affecting 11.33 million hectares of crops, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Among the total affected crops, 4.2 million hectares suffered serious drought and 1.07 million hectares dried up. About 3.9 million people and about 4.37 million livestock had difficulties getting water.

Yuan Zipeng, deputy director of the Liaoning provincial observatory, said the long-anticipated rain would "obviously" relieve the two-month-long drought that led to drinking water shortages for 792,200 people and 242,200 livestock in the province.

In order to increase the rainfall, the provincial bureau has prepared 1,269 rocket shells along with three aircraft to seed the clouds, Yuan said.

In Liaoning alone, 32 million hectares of farmland were hit by drought.

The water resources department in Inner Mongolia said 1.89 million people and 4.27 million livestock faced drinking water shortages. More than 200,000 livestock died as 71 percent of the region's pastures were severely hit by drought.

Qinggele, a herdsman in Bayan Zhuoer, Inner Mongolia, said his family had to use donkeys to carry water 15 km away.

Authorities in Inner Mongolia made artificial rain more than 1,000 times as the region saw the worst drought in the past 50 years. Officials also helped residents find more water sources and build more water-saving and irrigation projects.

Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu has urged government agencies to place "top priority" on anti-drought efforts during his tour of the drought-hit regions in Liaoning, Inner Mongolia and Jilin on Monday and Tuesday.

Local governments were also urged to expand irrigation by speeding up construction of reservoirs and properly conducting artificial precipitation as "the drought took place in major grain production bases at the key maturity period for crops, which will greatly affect agriculture production".


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