BEIJING Jan 24 China's eastern province of
Shandong is facing its worst drought in a century, with nearly a
quarter of a million residents facing drinking water shortages,
while more snow is expected in the south, state media said on
In the Shandong cities of Linyi, Rizhao and Weifang, the dry
spell has lowered reservoirs so dramatically that authorities
are using fire trucks to deliver daily drinking water supplies
to residents, the China Daily reported.
Shandong's provincial flood control and drought relief
headquarters has warned that the number of people affected could
rise to 300,000 from more than 240,000 at present unless the
region receives some rainfall soon.
Premier Wen Jiabao toured the central drought-hit region of
Henan at the weekend and pledged that the government would build
more facilities to conserve water this year, the Communist Party
mouthpiece the People's Daily said.
Parts of northern, central and eastern China have been
gripped by drought for more than three months, with
deterioriated conditions in in major winter wheat regions.
Drought has affected winter wheat crops in 17 percent of
growing areas in the northern bread basket and dry weather is
forecast to extend until spring, the government said last month.
Parts of southern China have been hit by freezing rain and
heavy snow, affecting crops and disrupting traffic. A fresh cold
snap with freezing rain and snow is likely to hit southwestern
China in the middle of this week, the People's Daily said.
The extreme weather coincides with a government campaign to
fight rising food costs -- the main driver of Chinese inflation
-- which have picked up again in recent weeks.
Beijing looks likely to break a 60-year record for the
latest date for its first snowfall of the season, with little
prospect of a snowfall next week, the People's Daily said.
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee, Editing by Ben Blanchard, Ken Wills
and Ron Popeski)