BEIJING Jan 17 China's longest river, the
Yangtze, is suffering from a severe drought this year with
water levels in some areas falling to the lowest in 142 years,
state media said on Thursday.
China is suffering its worst drought in a decade, which has
left millions of people short of drinking water and has shrunk
reservoirs and rivers.
Hardest hit are large swathes of the usually humid south,
where water levels on several major rivers have plunged to
historic lows in recent months.
On Jan. 8, the Yangtze water level at Hankou plunged to
13.98 metres (46 ft), the lowest since records began in 1866,
the China Daily said on Thursday, quoting the Wuhan-based
"This year's drought is rare," Li Changmin, a farmer from
central Hubei province, was quoted as saying. "Just days ago, I
saw ship after ship running aground. I have never seen that
Since October, more than 40 ships have run aground in the
main course of the Yangtze, the world's third longest river
which stretches 6,300 km (3,900 miles) from west to east, the
traditional dividing line between north and south China.
This year's dry season came a month earlier than usual and
water levels fell sooner than expected, an official was quoted
"Also, large amounts of water were stored at the Three
Gorges Dam last month, which caused the flow volume in the
river to fall 50 percent. But the Yangtze River Water Resource
Commission said the drought has nothing to do with the dam,"
the China Daily said.
The Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric
project, is an engineering feat that seeks to tame the Yangtze.
Backers say the dam will end devastating floods downstream
and generate clean electricity. Critics call it a reckless
folly that has brought wrenching dislocation for many people.
Drought and floods are perennial problems in China but
meteorologists have complained about the increased extreme
weather, pointing to global climate change as a culprit.
(Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Alex Richardson)