China declared its first drought emergency of the year as the country battles the record-breaking heatwave, causing the Yangtze River to dry up in some areas and placing stress on the power grid.
After China’s central and southern provinces endured weeks of intense heat, with temperatures in dozens of cities exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit, authorities issued the national yellow alert late on Thursday.
The heatwave has hampered crop growth, put livestock in danger, and forced some industries to close in order to save energy for homes.
This week, the 94 million-person Sichuan province in China issued an order for all factories to close for six days in an effort to alleviate the area’s power shortages.
The shutdowns followed a drop in reservoir levels and a rise in air conditioning demand brought on by the heat.
Data from the Ministry of Water Resources show that rainfall in the Yangtze River basin region has also decreased by about 45 per cent since the average in recent years. According to CCTV, the state broadcaster, as many as 66 rivers spread across 34 counties in the southwest of Chongqing have dried up.
According to the National Meteorological Center, the southwest Chinese district of Beibei on Thursday saw record high temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius, or 113 degrees Fahrenheit.
This week, Chinese officials unveiled plans to lessen the effects of the drought. These plans included shutting down some energy-intensive industries as well as cloud seeding to encourage rainfall and providing $44 million in disaster relief to the hardest-hit communities.
The chief economist of Hang Seng Bank China, Dan Wang, stated that the heat could have a major effect on China’s economy. The production of the nation’s steel, chemical, and fertiliser industries has already slowed, according to Wang.
“It will affect those big energy-intensive industries and it will have [a] knock-on effect throughout the economy and even to the global supply chain,” Wang said.
According to data released on Thursday by China’s emergency ministry, extreme weather in July resulted in direct economic losses of 2.73 billion yuan, or $400 million, which affected 5.5 million people.
(Adapted from AlJazeera.com)