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Chongqing's farmers have lost their entire crops - now their only hope is for rain
Residents of the village of Tieshi - or 'Iron Stone' - understand hardship, eking out an existence growing rice and corn in the hills of western Chongqing . But the mainland's worst drought in more than 50 years has destroyed their crops and livelihoods and left them with only hope - for rain.
Wang Changbi and her family lost their entire rice crop after a lack of rain during the past two months caused the seedlings to wither. Relatives who have left to work in the cities will support the family through what is the worst year in memory for the 40-year-old, who was born in Tieshi.
'This year is the worst. Everything we planted just dried out and died,' Ms Wang said, surveying the cracked earth below her house.
A fine dust coats everything in the village and locusts fly above dead rice plants in terraced fields. A stream running from the hills has dried up, leaving the family without enough water to irrigate.
Xinhua has reported that 15 provinces and regions are suffering shortages of drinking water and more than 130 million hectares of cropland - an area the size of Britain, France and Germany combined - have been affected.
In Chongqing municipality, worst hit by the drought, the local government estimates the drought has caused at least 2 billion yuan in damage to agriculture.
The saviour of the village has been a nearby reservoir. Although the water level has dropped several metres, villagers can still haul water back to their homes.
Ms Wang makes the trip once, sometimes twice, a day, lugging a plastic bucket filled with water up the hill in a journey that can take half an hour. The silt-filled water needs to sit for a day before the family can use it for cooking and washing, or boiling it for drinking.
She considers herself lucky. Higher in the hills above the village, families are relying on government deliveries of water. Chongqing says 7.7 million people are facing drinking water shortages, roughly a quarter of the municipality's 30 million residents.
The well used by Ms Wang's family has run dry. Her husband, Hu Zhizhong turns on an electric pump and the pipe squirts water for a few seconds before stopping with a gurgling noise.
Without their annual 500kg rice harvest, Ms Wang knows the coming year will be difficult. But she expects to pull through, just like the generations of her family who have farmed these hills.
Since the village still has access to drinking water, it won't receive government subsidies. Officials from Bishan county, which administers the area, have yet to appear in the village to offer support.
Chongqing has allocated 140 million yuan to fight the drought, state media have reported.
The Central Meteorological Office yesterday said hot and dry conditions would continue in Chongqing and Sichuan province for the next three days.