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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2007, 09:41 GMT
Millions face drought in SW China
Farmer walks on dried land in Sichuan
Parched land in Sichuan
More than 5.5 million people are short of drinking water because of an acute drought in south-western China, state media reports.

Low rainfall in the province of Sichuan has forced officials to deliver clean water to the worst-hit areas.

Six million livestock and half a million hectares of land are affected, Sichuan's governor said.

Many areas of China are regularly hit by water shortages or droughts, with some blaming climate change.

Most of Sichuan received no major rain in February, and no significant rain predicted before the end of March.

Stunted crops

Lack of rainfall and unusually warm temperatures are to blame for the drought that has hit farmers in Sichuan province, causing losses of nearly 300 million yuan ($38m, 19m), the official Xinhua news agency said.

Last year, much of Sichuan and neighbouring Chongqing were hit by a severe drought which severely stunted crop growths in many areas.

Other parts of China have experienced abnormal weather conditions recently.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the north-west of the country needed emergency water supplies earlier this year because of low rainfall in Shaanxi province.




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