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China Issues First National Drought Warning

China is struggling to save its crops while experiencing a severe drought.

China has issued its first national drought warning of the year, mobilizing expert teams to combat wildfires and protect crops from the scorching temperatures in the Yangtze river basin.

The newly released national "yellow alert" comes after areas from Sichuan in the southwest to Shanghai in the Yangtze delta experienced extreme heat for weeks, and government officials have repeatedly cited global climate change as the cause.

China Issues First National Drought Warning

The warning is two points behind the Beijing-scale warning.

State news agency Xinhua said on Thursday that Poyang Lake, located in one of the key basins of the Yangtze in central China's Jiangxi province, has shrunk by a quarter of its normal size compared to this time of year.

As many as 66 rivers have dried up in 34 counties in Chongqing's southwest region, state broadcaster CCTV said on Friday. Based on local government data, CCTV said rainfall in Chongqing has decreased by 60% this year compared to seasonal normals, and the soil in some areas is severely dehydrated.

Temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius on Thursday in the Beibei district, north of Chongqing's city centre, according to China's weather bureau. On Friday morning, Chongqing made up six of the 10 hottest places in the country, with temperatures already approaching 39 degrees Celsius in the Bishan region.

Chongqing district's infrastructure and emergency services have come under pressure as firefighters are on high alert as mountain and forest fires erupt in the area. It has also been reported that there has been an increase in cases of heat stroke.

You may be interested in: What is Global Warming and How to Prevent it? What are the Causes, Consequences and Effects?

Expert Teams Established to Combat Drought

The gas utility in the Fuling district also said on Friday it would cut supply to customers until further notice as they deal with "serious safety hazards".

Chongqing agriculture bureau also set up expert teams to expand the planting area to protect sensitive crops and make up for losses before the autumn harvest.

High temperatures in July alone caused economic losses of 2.73 billion yuan ($400 million), affecting 5.5 million people, according to data from China's emergency ministry late Thursday.

It is predicted that the current heat wave will only begin to subside on August 26.

It was announced that 4.5 million square kilometers have experienced temperatures of 35 degrees or more in the past month, which is almost half the country's total area. More than 200 weather stations recorded record temperatures.

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