Image: Chinese residents
Residents collect their ration of drinking water in China's southwestern municipality of Chongqing on Tuesday. Drought is threatening the water supply for 17 million people as a dry spell has lasted for weeks.
updated 8/16/2006 10:55:46 AM ET 2006-08-16T14:55:46

A severe drought in southwestern China has forced authorities to begin trucking in water to millions of people after wells and rivers went dry, state media said Wednesday.

In dozens of counties surrounding the industrial center of Chongqing, many households were surviving on a ration of just two buckets of water a day delivered by water wagons, the Xinhua News Agency said.

Two-thirds of the city's rivers and lakes have dried up since the drought began in mid-May, the report quoted He Lingyun, a disaster relief official with the Chongqing's municipal government, as saying.

"The village well has dried up and even the dusty water at the bottom has been scooped up," said Gu Qixiu, a villager from Chongqing's Zhangguan town.

Searing heat
State television showed on the evening news stretches of parched farmland in Chongqing where crops were withering or completely dried. Villagers lined up to fill and hoist away buckets of water.

The drought has also caused the city's vegetable prices to jump by up to 50 percent, the Beijing News reported.

Chongqing and the neighboring province of Hunan are the worst hit by this summer's sustained drought, which is threatening drinking water for more than 7.8 million people in the city and has resulted in losses of nearly $313 million, Xinhua said.

The drought has been made even harder to bear by soaring late summer heat. In Chongqing Wednesday the temperature hovered around 106 degrees Fahrenheit after reaching 112 degrees the previous day, the agency said.

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