BEIJING, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Several provinces in south China are suffering through a drought as a heat wave continues to scorch a wide swathe of land where flooding is usually the problem during the rainy season.
Drought has affected 12.2 million people in mountainous Guizhou Province, leaving 2 million people there to deal with temporary drinking water shortages and damaging 840,000 hectares of crops, the provincial government said on Tuesday.
The direct economic losses are estimated at over 5 billion yuan (815 million U.S. dollars), it added.
The drought is expected to worsen in the near future, as several cities issued high temperature alerts on Tuesday.
In Hubei Province, a drought has damaged 287,000 hectares of crops, according to Xu Shaojun, deputy director of the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters
Central parts of Hubei could see the drought worsen and expand further in the coming month, when temperatures are forecast to hit scorching levels, Xu said.
The heat is worsening the drought in Zhejiang Province, which received 74 percent less rain than usual in the first 29 days of July and saw temperatures rise above 40 degrees Celsius in many cities last week.
Thirty-three counties and cities in Hunan Province are also facing severe drought, as the province received over 70 percent less rain than normal this month.
Hot weather in the coming week, when temperatures could rise to 41 degrees Celsius in Hunan's central and eastern parts, could further aggravate the situation, said the provincial meteorological center.
The China Meteorological Administration on Tuesday issued the highest ever emergency response to the heat, ordering authorities and companies to help cope with the hot weather.
More than 43 counties and cities in southern China have seen temperatures top 40 degrees Celsius in July, according to the National Meteorological Center.