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Drought dries up reservoirs, rivers in SW China

(Xinhua)

09:42, August 26, 2011

GUIYANG - A severe drought in southwest China has dried up hundreds of reservoirs and rivers, devastated farm fields and made drinking water scarce, local authorities said.

The drought, which has lasted since early July, has dried up 479 reservoirs and 349 rivers in Guizhou province, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said in a statement on Thursday.

The drought has plagued 86 of the province's 88 cities and counties as last month's total rainfall was 69.8 percent below average, leaving over 5.5 million people short of drinking water, according to the headquarters.

The headquarters said earlier that rainfall in August has also been below average.

As of Thursday, nearly 1.1 million hectares of crops have been affected by the drought and 2.78 million heads of livestock were suffering from drinking water shortage.

Many parts of the province have embraced this week's rainfall, but, according to the statement, it has not rained enough to ease the drought.

Guizhou has allocated 640 million yuan (about $100 million) for drought relief efforts, said the statement.

Meanwhile, the province's water resource departments have been drilling wells and pumping water out of the ground to ensure a supply of drinking water and save crops, it said.

Lingering heat waves and scarce rain have also dried up more than 60 rivers and nearly 300 reservoirs in neighboring Yunnan province,said a statement from the provincial government.

A total of 1.53 million people are suffering from water scarcity in the province, said the statement.

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters on Wednesday sent work teams to Guizhou and Yunnan, as well as the other drought-ravaged southern provinces of Hunan and Sichuan, and Chongqing Municipality to assist in drought-relief operations.

According to data from the headquarters, the drought has affected a total of 5.86 million hectares of crops in those regions to date, leaving a total of 12 million people and 9.17 million head of livestock short of drinking water.

The central government has allocated more than 2 billion yuan to support local drought-fighting efforts.

While most parts of Yunnan are suffering from a dry spell, Menghai County in southwestern Yunnan has been submerged in floodwater since torrential rains pounded the county on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The rainstorm disrupted traffic as well as power and water supplies in parts of the county, and damaged over 200 hectares of crops.

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