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Rainfall brings drought relief

CHINA'S drought has been slightly eased by rainfall in four drought-hit provinces, an official from the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said yesterday.

E Jingping, secretary-general of the office, said at a press conference that moderate or slight rainfall has eased water shortages for 960,000 people and 1.62 million hectares of farmland.

Currently, 9.07 million hectares of farmland still suffers from drought, while 3.46 million people and 1.66 million heads of livestock face water shortages.

Although drought has been eased in some regions, the disaster is still expected to worsen this month, as little rainfall is forecast in the country's east and northeast areas, E warned.

Parts of some eastern areas, the northwest and Yellow River regions have gone more than 80 days without rain. In the worst-hit areas, rainfall has been 80 percent less than the same period last year.

To cope with the most severe drought in decades, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered all-out efforts.

According to E, China has irrigated about 9.6 million hectares of farmland this winter, accounting for 60 percent of the total acreage that suffers drought.

He estimated that other drought-hit wheat farmland would finish irrigation in the next 10 days.

E said the government will make further efforts to combat the drought. More investment will go to the construction of water resource facilities, in a bid to ensure water supply and expand domestic consumption.

Last week, the central government earmarked 400 million yuan (US$58.56 million) in drought relief aid for local governments. The Ministry of Finance allocated 86.7 billion yuan from its reserve in relief funds to drought-hit areas.


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