In Brief

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 May, 2009, 12:00am

More than half of Heilongjiang's grain fields hit by drought

Severe drought is threatening more than 50 per cent of grain fields in the breadbasket province of Heilongjiang, officials said yesterday. Hou Baijun, deputy commander of the provincial drought-relief office, said 6 million hectares of grain, 53 per cent of the province's total, were short of water. He said 460 million yuan (HK$523 million) of drought-relief funding this month had helped create more than 30,000 wells for irrigation, but that had only helped irrigate 1.37 million hectares of dry fields. Staff Reporter

Fishermen die inhaling fumes

Two fishermen died and one was rescued after breathing in poisonous gas on a fishing boat off the coast of Fujian. The accident took place when the men inhaled hydrogen sulfide in the boat's refrigerated storage hold. Two died instantly while the other signalled for help before losing consciousness. A navy ship nearby picked up the signal and gave him first aid, Xinhua reported. Staff Reporter

Putonghua exam for foreigners

The mainland is to launch a standardised Putonghua oral exam for foreigners soon in an attempt to promote the use of Chinese, Xinhua reported. It said the Putonghua oral exam would be divided into nine grades. Staff Reporter