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290,000 people short of drinking water in C China

2011-08-01 07:57    Xinhua     Web Editor: Li Jing

YONGZHOU, Hunan -- Some 290,000 people are short of drinking water and 876,000 more are affected as drought persists in the central province of Hunan, according to local drought relief authorities Sunday.

Fire engines have been delivering drinking water regularly to residents who have been cut off drinking water sources in the city of Yongzhou.

The drought has resulted in direct economic losses of 764 million yuan (118.42 million U.S. dollars), about 90 percent of which is agricultural loss.

So far, the dry spell has left more than 94,526 hectares of crops affected, including 16,667 hectares of which ruined.

"Rice usually grows well at this time of the year, and I was expecting to harvest 500 kilograms per mu (1/15 hectare) in 20 days. Now I have nothing," said Shen Tongfa, a villager in the Zhumei Village of Xintian County.

In the neighboring Dapingtang Village, Zhang Cuizhi said people had to drive motorcycles to rivers that are more than five kilometers away to wash clothes each five or six days, because of water shortage.

Pointing at her grandson, she said, "his clothes have been so dirty, but we have no water to wash."

In the county that Zhang lives, villagers have been forced to queue up to fetch limited amount of water, which is full of sediments, from a long-abandoned well.

"The water stinks, and we have to boil it for hours before drinking," Zhang said.

Most parts of Yongzhou city received an average rainfall of 639.8 mm this year, 38 percent less than the recorded average during the same period in previous years, according to figures released by the city's flood control and drought relief headquarters.

The city has also reported insufficient water storage, which is likely to bring difficulties to farmers to grow the next round of rice. Yongzhou currently stores 780 million cubic meters of water, 32.2 percent less than the average of previous years.