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China resorts to artillery to fight drought !

Beijing (AFP) :
China fired thousands of artillery shells into the sky to make it rain and prepared to divert water from its two longest rivers to fight the country's worst drought in decades, officials said Sunday.
Premier Wen Jiabao said the drought -- which has hit central and southwestern rice-growing provinces, as well as the north -- risked straining food supplies when people already faced hardships due to the economic crisis.
"The drought is still developing. Meteorologists forecast that there will be no major rain in the near-term," Wen was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency during a visit to drought-hit areas in Henan province.
"It is very difficult to fight a drought and ensure a good harvest," he said. "We must work very hard and relentlessly."
Weather-control officials launched 2,392 shells and 409 rockets packed with cloud-seeding chemicals in operations across the north of China Saturday, the China Meteorological Administration said in a statement.
The cloud-seeding brought up to five millimetres (0.2 inches) of rain to northern Hebei province, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Officials also announced plans to divert water from the Yangtze River, the country's longest, to areas of eastern Jiangsu province, Xinhua reported, quoting a senior Ministry of Water Resources emergency official.
Floodgates will also be opened in Inner Mongolia along the Yellow River, the country's second-longest river, to increase water supply for central Henan and eastern Shandong provinces, the official said, according to the report.
Beijing last week raised its drought emergency to the highest level for the first time and sent relief supplies and technical specialists to eight major drought-hit regions.
More than 4.3 million people and 2.1 million head of livestock are short of water, the relief headquarters said this week, as parts of the nation experience their worst drought since the early 1950s.
The dry spell highlights one of China's main long-term worries, as water resources are being rapidly depleted due to the country's fast economic growth.
The capital, Beijing, is particularly badly hit, with experts warning the city of 17 million people will soon face water shortages.

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