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CHINA DROUGHT CUTS SUPPLY OF DRINKING WATER

SHARE CHINA DROUGHT CUTS SUPPLY OF DRINKING WATER

The worst drought in 30 years has left drinking water sparse for millions of residents in China's most populous province and crops dying in the fields, official media said Friday.

Seventy-seven counties in southwest China's Sichuan Province have been without rain for 20 to 30 days and temperatures have soared to more than 108 degrees.Officials told the Xinhua news agency more than 6.69 million people and 6.43 million head of livestock "now have difficulty in getting drinking water."

Some 210,000 acres of crops have died.

Sichuan, with a population approaching 110 million, is a major agricultural province.

The government has dispatched 34 working groups to the worst-hit area to help farmers. "So far, the province has made use of over 80,000 machines and 700 water-carrying vehicles to aid the efforts," Xinhua said.

In addition, more than 90 percent of the 100,000 tons of fertilizer and 120,000 tons of diesel oil earmarked for drought relief have arrived in the province.

The summerlong dry spell in the major grain and cotton-producing areas has prompted officials to urge residents to store and ration water to help save the harvest.

In northern provinces, at least 10.4 million people and 3 million head of livestock are also facing a shortage of drinking water, according to the State Anti-Drought Office.

Latest statistics show drought-affected farmland has doubled from 10 million acres in late July to more than 25 million acres or 10 percent of China's total farmland.

The drought is threatening an additional 1.48 million acres of famland each day without rain, experts contend.