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September 12, 2009

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Drought takes toll as heat continues

SUSTAINED hot weather was continuing to cause havoc in most areas of southwest China's Chongqing, the municipality's drought-control watchdog said yesterday.

The Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters in Chongqing said the previous day that 405,000 residents and 294,000 head of livestock were suffering from water shortages, up 197,500 and 165,000 from late August.

The worst-hit areas are Pengshui, Qianjiang, Wanzhou and Youyang. In urban areas of Pengshui County, for instance, 20,000 residents are facing water shortages.

Upward of 273,000 hectares of crops were drought-stricken, the headquarters said.

The municipal weather service said hot autumn weather in most of the city began a week ago, with the average temperature hovering around 35 degrees Celsius.

Nine urban districts and suburban counties recorded temperatures exceeding 40 degrees on Tuesday. In Qijiang, southern Chongqing, the mercury rose to 41.9 degrees.

Consecutive days of hot weather, coupled with less rainfall and a rising demand for drinking water, had impacted on water supplies, the headquarters said.

The municipal government has ordered water resource administration departments to ensure no disruption to production and to meet basic demand for drinking water in drought-hit areas.

Pengzhou County has adopted measures to counter water shortages, including alternating supply of water to different urban areas, and building emergency pumps.

Apart from Chongqing, six other Chinese regions -- Hunan, Guizhou, Jiangxi, Hubei and Guangdong provinces, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region -- had been hit by drought, said the Office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

By Tuesday, 2.75 million people, plus 1.2 million head of livestock were facing water shortages, and 1.32 million hectares of cropland were suffering from drought in the seven regions, including 96,000 hectares of crops "totally scorched."

The regions have spent 340 million yuan (US$49.79 million) on drought-relief efforts since August.

They have also mobilized more than 5 million people to fight drought.


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