(People walk along a street amid rain in Chongqing September 5, 2006. Photo: cnsphoto )
Residents of seven drought-parched cities in Sichuan Province have received some welcome rainfall and cooler temperatures.
The arrival of a cold-air mass will disperse the heat wave that had dominated the province and neighboring Chongqing Municipality for more than two months.
The Sichuan meteorological bureau Monday forecast that heavy showers and high winds will sweep much of the province.
Weatherman in Chongqing also forecast a sharp decline in temperature - 8 to 12 degrees Celsius - from Monday through Tuesday.
The high fell to 33.3 degrees in the city on Monday, well off the 40-degree pace on Sunday.
Over the past two months, the worst drought to hit China in 50 years has left at least 18 million people short of drinking water in 15 provinces, municipalities and regions, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.
Sichuan and Chongqing were the hardest-hit areas.
The drought, which was the most severe dry spell in Chongqing since the city began keeping meteorological records in 1891, caused nearly 8 million people and 7.3 million livestock to suffer shortages of drinking water and parched 1.3 million hectares of cropland.