Beijing, Aug 19 (EFE).- China issued its first nationwide drought warning of the year, as authorities organized teams to protect crops from scorching temperatures across the Yangtze River basin, according to state-run media on Friday.
The nationwide “yellow alert,” announced late Thursday, comes after weeks of high temperatures that have dried up parts of the Yangtze, damaging crops and reducing the drinking water supply to some rural communities.
China has a four-tier, color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
Cutoffs in as many as 66 rivers in 34 counties in southwest China have dried up due to the scorching heat amid a 60 percent dip in rainfall compared to seasonal levels, state media CGTN reported Friday.
Drought conditions have also reduced the country’s largest freshwater lake, Poyang, located in east China’s Jiangxi province, the local water resources department said, CGTN reported.
As of Thursday morning, the lake’s area was 737 sq km (285 square miles), 2,203 sq km less than a year ago.
Meanwhile, the National Meteorological Center renewed its red alert for high temperatures on Friday, the 30th day an alert has been issued.
On Friday morning, the central municipality of Chongqing registered six of the ten hottest spots in the country, with temperatures in the Bishan district exceeding 39 degrees Celsius.
State forecasters also predicted that the current heat wave would only begin to subside on Aug.26.
Soaring temperatures in July caused direct economic losses of 2.73 billion yuan ($400 million) and affected 5.5 million people, according to data from the Ministry of Emergency Management.
This unusual drought in some parts of central China, accompanied by an unprecedented heat wave, has led to the suspension of activity in several factories as power generation has been unable to match the increasing demand. EFE