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One million face drought in southwest China

BEIJING, Dec 17 (Reuters) - More than a million people in the southwestern Chinese region of Guangxi have been hit by drinking water shortages in the worst drought since 1951, the official People’s Daily said on Monday.

In the last three months, Guangxi, the country’s main sugar-growing region, had had less than half the normal amount of rain, the report said, while other parts of the region had seen almost no rain at all.

The government has earmarked 2.29 billion yuan ($310.8 million) to bring water to thirsty villages, the newspaper added.

Large areas of south China are also suffering from serious drought, with water levels on two major rivers -- the Gan and the Xiang -- in rice-growing provinces dropping to historic lows.

China suffers water shortages of nearly 40 billion cubic metres a year which its water minister has blamed largely on global warming, state media have reported, though severe pollution and rising consumption by both farmers and booming cities have compounded shortages. ($1=7.369 Yuan) (Reporting by Ben Blanchard)

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