Monday, March 22, 2010

China says drought now affecting 50 million people

clipped from www.reuters.com
A boy walks with a calf on a dried-up reservoir in Kaiyang county, Guizhou province, March 14, 2010. REUTERS/China Daily

BEIJING (Reuters) - A severe drought across a large swathe of southwest China is now affecting more than 50 million people, and forecasters see no signs of it abating in the short term, state media said on Friday.

The drought began last autumn, and is the result not only of less rainfall but also unseasonably high temperatures, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a central government meeting on the situation.

It is affecting the provinces and regions of Guangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan and the municipality of Chongqing. These parts of China are known for their sugar and rubber plantations.

More than 16 million people are having difficulty accessing safe drinking water, it added.

"The drought has lasted for more than five straight months and is still developing," Xinhua said. "It is having a serious impact upon people's lives, industry and agriculture as well as general economic development. Losses are severe."

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