The drought, the worst in 100 years in Yunnan and parts of Guizhou, would likely continue till May as no substantial rainfall was expected ahead of the rainy season, according to meteorological agencies.

The drought had left 18 million residents and 11.7 million head of livestock in the region with drinking water shortages, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Wednesday.

China is mobilizing its troops to help the struggling people in the country's drought affected southwest.

A 1,000 troops were on their way to help with drought relief in Yunnan Province on Friday, and another 3,000 would be sent in the next few days, said Li Shiming, commander of the Chengdu military command.

Each soldier carries a 25 liter plastic water container and are also equipped with well drilling equipment and sanitation devices.