BEIJING, March 29 (UPI) -- A drought lingering in three Chinese provinces since October has affected 23.7 million people, with economic losses of more than $1.1 billion, officials say.
On Thursday the National Disaster Reduction Commission and the Ministry of Civil Affairs initiated an emergency response and sent work teams to Yunnan, Gansu and Sichuan provinces to aid in disaster relief, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
The drought may last at least another month because no significant amount of rain is expected in April, said Zhang Kebing, deputy director of the Gansu civil affairs department.
In remote mountainous areas of Gansu where tap water is not available and the drought has dried up springs, streams and storage ponds, people are facing a severe water shortage, he said.
Officials at a provincial meteorological station said attempts to induce artificial precipitation would be made if weather conditions permit.