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China prepares for long fight as severe drought continues to expand: official

BEIJING, March 31 — China's severe drought was still expanding, as a total of 116 million mu (about 7.73 million hectares) of arable land had been affected in China as of Tuesday, up from 114 million mu last Friday, said Liu Ning, vice minister of water resources.

The drought had produced a serious impact on the life of the locals and economic development, leaving 24.25 million people and 15.84 million farm animals short of water, he said at a press conference here Wednesday.

Liu attributed the drought in southwest China to less rainfall, declining river flows, high temperatures, inadequate water storage facilities and inefficient use of water.

Recent rainfall, brought by cloud seeding in the southwestern regions, possibly had provided some relief to farm production, but drinking water remained a problem, he said.

"We should be fully prepared for a longer and more serious drought," he said, as the rainy season usually starts in China's southwestern regions in late May.

The central government had issued a total of 6.3 billion yuan (922.4 million U.S.dollars) to provide financial support to drought-relief projects, alongside another 800 million yuan being allocated for general financial support in the affected areas, Liu said. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM/utb

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