Thursday, February 5, 2009

Emergency as drought hits key farm regions in China

Terra Daily, via Agence France-Presse: China on Thursday declared an emergency for parts of the country experiencing their worst drought in half a century, with some of the nation's winter harvest at risk, state media reported. President Hu Jintao called for an all-out effort to help offset the dry spell that has spread across seven key farming provinces, leading to water shortages for millions of people and livestock.

"With the drought reaching a severity rarely seen in history, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters has called a level two emergency," China National Radio reported. Level two is categorised as a "serious" emergency on a four-stage scale, with level one being the worst.

…At least 3.7 million people and 1.9 million head of livestock are short of water, according to the China Daily. About 9.5 million hectares (23.5 million acres) of farmland, representing 43 percent of the country's winter wheat supplies, are also affected, the paper said.

The situation is unlikely to improve soon as no rain has been forecast for the next 10 days, according to the China Daily. Meteorological authorities in the central province of Henan, one of China's most populous with 93.6 million people, have called the drought the worst since 1951, after 105 days without rain…Further north in the capital Beijing, rain has not fallen for 100 days, a situation not seen in 38 years, the paper said….

China, Xinjiang, a satellite view of the desert known as Lop Nur

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