BEIJING, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Around 2.2 million people are facing a shortage of drinking water due to a severe drought in parts of central, southern and eastern China, with some cities starting to run low on supplies, state media said on Monday.
Rainfall is down by between 20 to 90 percent compared with the same period last year in the provinces of Henan, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui and Shaanxi, the official Xinhua news agency quoted a government official as saying.
Some of the areas affected are major growing regions for winter wheat, the report added.
"Relentless droughts that started to dry out winter wheatproducing areas such as Shandong and Henan provinces in November continue, affecting some 4 million hectares of cropland," it cited Chen Lei, deputy head of drought relief efforts, as saying.
"Water supply is running low in cities around the Yellow, Huaihe and Haihe rivers in northern and central parts of China," Chen added, calling for more work to be put into relief efforts.
"Governments at all levels should fully recognise the challenge and ramp up drought-relief efforts," he said.
Drought has affected winter wheat crops in 17 percent of China's wheat growing areas in the country's northern bread basket, and dry weather is forecast to extend until spring next year, the government said last month.
Meanwhile, other parts of the country have been hit by freezing rain and heavy snow.
Rain, snow and ice are forecast through Friday in many parts of China and could disrupt travel plans for millions who aim to get on the road ahead of the annual Lunar New Year holidays, state media reported on Sunday. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)