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Drought inflicts a heavy toll

[ 2010-02-09 12:58]     字号 [] [] []  
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The worst drought in 60 years that has left millions of people in Yunnan province wihout drinking water has also fueled forest fires and threatened local energy supplies.

A local official said late Sunday the drought has inflicted a direct agricultural economic loss of 6.5 billion yuan ($952 million) in Yunnan.

The province has received 389 million yuan ($57 million) for drought relief, said Zhou Yunlong, head of the provincial water resources bureau.

The efforts have helped temporarily ease the shortage of drinking water for 4.25 million people and 2.42 million livestock. It has helped irrigate 733 hectares of crops, Zhou added.

Two firefighters were injured when they struggled to bring two mountain fires under control in the suburb of the provincial capital of Kunming on Sunday.

Wang Bin, a firefighter who works for a park near Kunming, needed an operation to remove shrapnel from a fire-extinguishing bomb from his chest.

According to local government officials, one mountain fire started at around noon on Sunday in the northwestern suburb of Kunming and was under control by about 7 pm.

"The fire was so strong and I could not get closer than 10 meters," said a forest guard surnamed Lin. "It is difficult to control the fire with the changing wind direction and dry weather."

The drought may also affect energy supplies in Yunnan.

One official with a hydropower plant in Yunnan told the China Daily: "The long-term drought had caused the water level to drop, which might effect the electronic plant."

The drought, which began in July, has left 4.9 million residents and 3.34 million livestock with a shortage of drinking water.

More than 2 million hectares of crops, 81.7 percent of the total, have been affected. About 534,600 hectares have been destroyed. The province will suffer a drop of more than 40 percent in its summer grain output.

The severe drought has forced residents to replant 135 hectares of potatoes, corn, and vegetables.

There will be no substantial rainfall in the short term, the Yunnan provincial meteorological bureau said, warning that the drought will not begin to lift until the raining season begins in May.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Drought inflicts a heavy toll

Drought inflicts a heavy toll

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for China Daily for one year.