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Worst Drought in 50 Years Grips Shandong

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Shandong Province in east China is suffering its worst drought in half a century, which has left tens of thousands of people short of drinking water and huge swathes of farmland too dry to plant, authorities said Wednesday.

From Sept. 23 to date, Shandong received an average of nine millimeters of rainfall, 86 percent below the average of previous years, said Yin Changwen, spokesman of the Shandong Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

About 240,000 people in the province are short of drinking water, and about 27.58 million mu (1.84 million hectares) of cropland is suffering from drought.

The dry-spell will likely continue, with no rain or snow forecast for the near future.

The provincial government has tapped underground water and transported water to drought-hit areas, said Yin, adding that it would take more steps to combat the drought.

Meanwhile, a drought also continues in northern Shanxi Province.

Since Nov. 1 to Dec. 21, the average precipitation in the province was just 1.7 millimeters, 89 percent below the average of the previous years, said Jin Ning, of Shanxi Climate Center on Wednesday.

The drought began in November and since then no rain or snow has fallen in one-third of Shanxi's cities and counties, Jin said.

This year lingering droughts have plagued Shandong, Shanxi, Hebei, Henan, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, in China's north and east.

The current cold snap sweeping the country is unlikely to bring rain or snow to the drought-hit areas, said Zhou Bin, an expert with the China Meteorology Administration's National Climate Center, on Tuesday.

(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2010)

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