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Southwest China battles fires as fears for harvest

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China’s southwestern regions of Chongqing and Sichuan were battling fires on Tuesday ahead of an expected drop in temperatures over the next week, but the country’s important autumn harvest could remain under threat.

Authorities warned this month that temperatures are rising faster in China than in the rest of the world. The record-breaking heat wave has raised concerns about the country’s ability to adapt to rapid climate change and conserve its already scarce water resources.

Satellite images showed that Poyang Lake, which usually receives floodwaters from the Yangtze River during the summer, is at a fraction of its normal size for this time of year, reducing the drinking water supply of communities. nearby communities, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Water from the Three Gorges and Danjiangkou reservoirs has already been released to alleviate shortages downstream, the broadcaster added.

The drought poses a “severe threat” to China’s autumn harvests, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that local authorities had been instructed to do everything possible to increase water supply and protect the harvest. .

Farmers who suffer severe damage to their crops will be urged to replant and cloud seeding rockets will be made available whenever possible, the ministry said.

State forecasters said China’s heat wave, which has lasted more than two months, was about to reach a “tipping point,” with a cold front entering from the west and a typhoon approaching from the east. southeast.

Although China remains on “red alert” for heat for the 12th day, temperatures are expected to drop in parts of central China by Wednesday and in Sichuan and Chongqing from August 29, the National Meteorological Center said on its official channel. from Weibo.

Heavy rainfall could hit mountainous western Sichuan on August 27-28, increasing the risk of flooding and landslides, local media said, citing the Sichuan Center for Hydrological and Water Resources Studies. Authorities should take the opportunity to store as much water as possible, he said.

Authorities also raised the “red alert” for fires late on Tuesday, warning that the situation was “extremely dangerous” in forested areas of central and southern Chongqing and eastern Sichuan, the official news service reported. from China.

Chongqing and Sichuan, where rainfall has been 80% less than in normal years, have had to deal with 19 fires since Aug. 14, according to financial news service Caixin.

No deaths or injuries have been reported so far, but Chongqing has been forced to relocate 1,500 people due to the risk of fire, according to the local government.

Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou provinces are also on high alert for wildfires and grassland fires, China’s Ministry of Emergency Management warned late Tuesday.

The ministry said it had dispatched more than 2,800 state-level firefighters to Chongqing and Sichuan to help contain the situation.

Severe power outages continue across the region, with Sichuan’s capital Chengdu turning off the lights on its subway trains to save energy.

High temperatures have increased the use of air conditioners to a third of the province’s total electrical load and hydroelectric power generation has been reduced by half due to low water levels.

Sichuan normally supplies large volumes of hydropower to the eastern seaboard through the power grid, and declining output means coal-fired power stations elsewhere have had to make up for power shortages.

According to CCTV, coal-fired power plants in central Anhui province are running at full capacity and have generated 12% more electricity than normal to meet demand from eastern regions.


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