WUHAN, June 2 (Xinhua) -- A lingering dry spell has left central China's Hubei Province, renowned as China's "kingdom of lakes," with the lowest water surface area ever recorded in the region.
All of the province's major lakes, including Dongting Lake and Honghu Lake, have seen their water surface areas shrink to 50 percent or less of their previous areas, said a report released on Thursday by the provincial meteorological bureau.
A long-lasting drought has dried up many of Hubei's lakes, stranding boats and devastating fisheries in the region.
As of May 27, the water surface area of Dongting Lake had shrunk to 468 square kilometers, 55 percent less than the annual average surface area.
The water surface area of the Danjiangkou Reservoir, which is part of China's massive south-to-north water diversion project, shrunk to 20 percent less than the annual average surface area.
Torrential rains are expected to fall soon in several parts of Hubei, which will help to partially relieve the drought, according to a forecast by the Wuhan Meteorological Observatory.