May 31, 2011

China's largest inland lake dries up as country battles drought

China's largest inland lake has disappeared in worst drought to hit the centre and east of the country for more than half a century.

China's largest inland lake dries up as country battles drought
A fishing boat is stranded on the grass lake bed of Poyang Lake Photo: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

The volume of water in Poyang lake in Jiangxi province, normally 100 miles-long and 10 miles-wide, is now a tenth of its normal level, according to Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

Fishing boats and house boats have been left stranded on a vast stretch of the lake bed, now a lush grassland.

The drought, which has seen no rainfall for two months, has struck the central Chinese provinces that are known as the country's "home of rice and fish".

Almost half of all the country's rice fields have been affected and four million people do not have access to drinking water.

At Honghu Lake, in Hubei province, fish farmers have seen 80 per cent of their stocks die. "More than 20,000 acres of fish farms have been severely damaged," said Zou Haibin, the local Communist party secretary in Dianhe, to Xinhua.

"I was born in 1967 and have never seen anything like this," added Li Liangjun, a fish farmer in Dianhe. "Even my father has never seen anything like it. It has not rained for nearly three months".

The drought has pushed up vegetable prices in major cities by as much as 30 per cent, and the government has warned that if it continues it may have an effect on this year's rice harvest.

However, the Chinese weather bureau has warned there is no rain in sight and that it expects the drought to continue until early June.

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