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Drought hits northwest

SUSTAINED drought over the past seven months has caused water and food shortages for more than 1.37 million people in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the local government said yesterday.

The drought has hit 11 counties and districts in the central part of the Muslim-inhabited region, including Zhongning, Haiyuan and Yuanzhou, the regional civil affairs bureau said.

"These areas have reported no significant rain since November," said Liu Zhonglin, a bureau official in charge of disaster relief. "The drought affected spring and summer ploughing and killed even winter wheat."

Sustained drought has left more than 760,000 people thirsty and destroyed 317,500 hectares of crops, which has led to a food shortage for another 615,000 people, Liu said.

At least 870,000 people needed immediate relief, and the regional government had demanded governments at county and city levels provide aid. In many counties, government officials and volunteers have been carrying drinking water for remote schools.


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