BEIJING, March 25 (UPI) — A drought gripping southwest China for months has affected 62 million people and more than 12 million acres of crops, authorities said.
The provinces hit by the drought since last autumn include Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Chongqing, and Guangxi, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Wednesday, China Daily reported. In Guizhou, cloud-seeding helped produce rains the past two days, easing the situation somewhat in some areas of the province.
The report said about 18 million residents and more than 11 million head of livestock in the five provinces also are facing drinking water shortages.
The ministry estimated the direct economic losses so far from the drought at nearly $3.5 billion.
The drought also has caused prices of goods to soar, affecting much of the food chain, including tea, herbs, fruit and grain.
The China Daily report said most farmers in the five provinces must depend on nature as the region has few water irrigation facilities. Since the start of the drought, the provinces have received only half their annual average rainfall.
Separately, sandstorms swept across the country for the past two weeks.
Experts blamed the sandstorms on strong and frequent cold spells, China Daily reported.
The cold spells could produce another six to nine sandstorms in northern China in April and May, the experts said.
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